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UUSC Statement on Congress’ Budget Negotiations: “Citizenship Through Reconciliation is Winnable, and We Expect Nothing Less”

November 4, 2021
Media Contact:
Michael Givens
Director of Strategic Communications
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Phone: +1-857-540-0617
Email: mgivens@uusc.org

UUSC Statement on Congress’ Budget Negotiations: “Citizenship Through Reconciliation is Winnable, and We Expect Nothing Less”

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—In response to pending negotiations on Capitol Hill around including immigrant protections in budget reconciliation, UUSC’s President Rev. Mary Katherine Morn issued the following statement: 

“In recent weeks, members of Congress have backed off from their pledge to include full protections and a path to citizenship for immigrants in the pending Build Back Better budget reconciliation deal. Instead, the House draft of the bill includes a ‘parole’ option that would provide a short-term work permit that can’t extend beyond 2031—but no ultimate path to citizenship—for a subset of long-term undocumented immigrant members of our communities. 

“Throughout these negotiations, our position remains unchanged: The reconciliation package remains the best chance in a generation Congress has had to finally enact a path to citizenship into law. However they achieve this—whether through updating the national registry or other means—is for them to decide. But they must seize this opportunity to provide permanent residency (green cards) with a path to citizenship for millions before another chance slips by. 

“We do not accept the argument that the Senate parliamentarian has effectively ruled out this possibility by advising against including citizenship in the bill. The parliamentarian is an unelected official who reports to the Senate leadership, and her opinion is not binding. Moreover, the specious reasoning she employed in reaching her conclusion and her past employment as an immigration prosecutor call into question her neutrality in this matter. Senate leadership and Vice President Harris, the presiding officer of the Senate, need not and should not permit her to unilaterally dash the hopes of millions who have waited far too long for permanent residency. 

“UUSC is in solidarity with the position of our partners the National TPS Alliance, who have stated clearly that they will support any measure that improves the status quo for immigrants so long as it does not come with any harmful poison pills attached. We are also in solidarity with our partners the UndocuBlack Network in refusing to accept any politician’s argument that an inadequate ‘parole’ substitute is the only option remaining and that citizenship is no longer on the table. To the contrary, it is very much still possible, as the Vice President and the Democratic majority in the House and Senate have the power and authority to ignore the parliamentarian and keep citizenship in the final bill. If they choose not to do so, that will be on them. They can’t fob it off on a Senate official whom no one elected to represent their interests.

“For these reasons, we strongly affirm that citizenship through reconciliation is winnable in this Congress, and we expect nothing less from our elected representatives. As UndocuBlack’s co-director Patrice Lawrence wrote this past summer: ‘Conventional wisdom about what is achievable is often wrong.’ UUSC shares our partner’s vision and, as people of faith and conscience, we believe in expanding the definition of what’s possible to include what our communities need and deserve. Congressional leadership and the White House can and must still ensure a pathway to citizenship for millions through the reconciliation bill.”

UUSC members can take action to support our partners’ demands for citizenship in the reconciliation bill here.

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is a human rights and solidarity organization founded as a rescue mission in 1940 during the Holocaust. Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and with a membership of more than 35,000 supporters across the United States, UUSC’s programs focus on the issues of climate change, migrant justice, and crisis response.