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Senate Parliamentarian Ruled Against Democrats’ Plan To Give 8M Immigrants Path To Citizenship Through Reconciliation

Immigration advocates and Congressional Democrats were dealt a major setback Sunday night when the Senate parliamentarian ruled against a plan to include major reforms in the next federal budget.

Senate Democrats had hoped to include a pathway to citizenship provision in a $3.5 trillion dollar spending package they are trying to pass through a process called reconciliation, which would allow them to avoid a Republican filibuster.

Democrats pointed to a 2005 reconciliation bill that expanded the number of available green cards as precedent for including immigration reform in the draft legislation.

But the parliamentarian, who advises the Senate on what is allowed under its own rules, struck down those efforts.

"We are discouraged but this is not the end," said Julia Brown, advocacy and outreach director at the Portland-based Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, which had publicly lobbied Maine’s congressional delegation to include immigration reform in the reconciliation package. “This is just one step along the way in passing a bill that gives people access to a pathway to citizenship, and we look forward to seeing how Congress will address this issue.”

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, is vowing Democrats will pursue alternate strategies to include immigration reform in the spending package.