Nearly a dozen Florida mayors have signed onto a letter from mayors around the country urging Congress to use the budget reconciliation process to approve a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and other immigrants.
Of the 11 Florida mayors who joined the latest call, 10 are from South Florida. We Are Home, a national organization pushing for immigration reform measures, organized the latest campaign which featured more than 80 mayors from more than two dozen states.
“Today, there are an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants working in construction, agriculture, food services and production, transportation, health care, and other essential industries who have risked their lives and the lives of their families to keep our nation running during one of the most challenging periods in modern history,” the mayors wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“As our state and local communities continue to confront a public health and economic catastrophe that has claimed more than 500,000 lives and exacerbated deep racial and economic inequities, it is vital that Congress enact protections for Dreamers, TPS holders, and essential immigrant workers to secure the health of our nation and to lay the foundation for an equitable economic recovery for all communities across the country.”
Signing onto the letter are Mayors Philippe Bien-Aime of North Miami, Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, Tamara James of Dania Beach, Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County, Wayne Messam of Miramar, Sally Philips of South Miami, Lauren Poe of Gainesville, Hazelle Rogers of Lauderdale Lakes, Mike Ryan of Sunrise, Ken Thurston of Lauderhill and Steve Wilson of Belle Glade.
The Senate requires 60 votes to bypass any filibuster. That effectively means that although the 100-person Senate has 50 Democrats who can use Vice President Harris as a tiebreaking vote, Democrats must nevertheless recruit 10 Republicans to even get a vote to the floor.
But the reconciliation process — usable once a year for budget-related issues — allows legislation to be approved with just 50 votes. It’s unclear, however, whether establishing a pathway to citizenship would qualify under the reconciliation process. The Senate parliamentarian would need to rule on that issue.
Though it’s up in the air whether such a push would be successful, the mayors are pushing the Democratically-controlled Congress to test the issue and force a ruling from the parliamentarian.
“Providing a path to citizenship for these individuals and their families not only recognizes the sacrifices they have made for all Americans over the past year, but also the important role they continue to play in America’s economic recovery and long-term global competitiveness,” the letter reads.
“It’s time for Congress to act. The only way we can truly Build Back Better is to ensure that Dreamers, TPS holders, and essential workers are included in any economic recovery legislation including through budget reconciliation.”
South Florida is home to a sizable immigrant community. Congress has attempted floated scale immigration reform since the George W. Bush administration, but no bill offering a wide-scale pathway to citizenship has emerged in that span.