WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats may propose that the government exercise its existing parole power to let migrants stay temporarily in the United States, aides and advocates said Wednesday, in the party’s latest attempt to use its expansive domestic policy bill to help millions of immigrants.
The idea is being advanced as President Joe Biden and party leaders labor to resolve disputes and win the near-unanimous Democratic support they will need to move the giant social and environment package through the narrowly divided Congress. The massive legislation has been bogged down for months amid internal fights over the measure’s ultimate price tag and the initiatives it will include.
Giving immigrants without permanent status a way to earn that legal protection plus an opportunity for citizenship has been a top-tier priority for progressive and Latino lawmakers.
The latest idea would fall short of that goal. But the potential language would specify that parole, or the right to temporarily remain in the U.S., could be granted to those here since 2011 for five years, and could be renewed for an additional five years. The proposal would let migrants avoid deportation, work and in many cases travel and was described by an immigration advocate who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal planning.
Last month, the Senate’s nonpartisan parliamentarian said two earlier, more sweeping Democratic immigration proposals could not go into the massive domestic bill. Under special procedures the Senate is using to protect the overall legislation from bill-killing Republican filibusters, the measure can’t contain provisions not primarily driven by fiscal issues, and the latest idea’s prospects seem uphill.
The provisions under consideration would not explicitly provide paroled immigrants a way to become legal permanent residents or citizens. But roughly 1 million of them with close relatives in the U.S. would be able to take advantage of existing procedures to seek that status, the advocate said.