Dems Run Congress, Face Strong Pressure To Act On Immigration

Published: Saturday, January 9, 2021 - 4:52pm
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Wins by Democrats in both Georgia Senate runoffs mean the party gets control of the country’s legislative and executive branches, and leaders face intense pressure to use power they haven’t had in a decade to pass immigration reform.

Georgia’s two Blue senators give Democrats up to 51 votes to cast for immigration reform in the upper chamber of Congress.

“You still need a filibuster-proof vote in the Senate, which means 60,” said Muzaffar Chishti, senior fellow with the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. President-elect Biden has promised to send Congress an immigration bill by May. “But for that to turn into actual law, I think, still needs a significant amount of Republican support," Chishti said. 

Which makes moderate senators Susan Collins and Mitt Romney powerful, Chishti says. Also watch Democrats Joe Manchin and Jon Tester, who are not guaranteed votes for liberal immigration policy.

But expect COVID-related issues to dominate lawmakers’ agenda in 2021.

“So I think immigration, despite the fact that there’s a lot of sentiment for it, will have to take a back seat,” Chishti said. 

Legislative deals that might get done anyway likely would address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, for undocumented people working essential jobs.

“I think those are modest measures which one could see could have bipartisan and broad support, even in the midst of a pandemic,” he said.

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