Major Issues Tied To Immigration Are On Deck As Congress Returns

By Matthew Casey
Published: Monday, July 20, 2020 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, July 20, 2020 - 7:57am

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Congress returns from recess this week and has a big to-do list before going back on hiatus for all of August.

Lawmakers are expected to negotiate another stimulus package to offset the effect of the coronavirus pandemic. A key detail in any agreement will again be whether it includes help for undocumented immigrants.

Undocumented people were not eligible for the first round of stimulus checks.

The current political climate means it’s likely to be the same way this time around, said Ali Noorani, president and CEO of the National Immigration Forum in Washington, D.C. Still, he said, Congress could move toward such a policy by making mixed-status households and families with green-card holders eligible for relief.

“There are millions of U.S. citizen with one or two undocumented parents. Why are they being held accountable for their parents’ immigration status?” Noorani said. 

Noorani said what’s more important than financial aid is that any stimulus package has free COVID-19 testing and treatment for all people regardless of their status.

Employees of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also hope lawmakers can make a deal on emergency funding for their agency, so most don’t have to go on furlough.

“We think that Congress should step in and provide the funding that USCIS needs. But to do that with two very clear requirements,” Noorani said.  

He explained the first stipulation would be that the agency accept an increased level of accountability not used in the past. The second is a promise that top officials use the money for processing visa and citizenship applications, but not for enforcement.

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