By Anna Giaritelli, Homeland Security Reporter
More than 6 million illegal immigrants in the United States would be granted amnesty and allowed to obtain government benefits by House Democrats’ Build Back Better Act, according to a review by the Congressional Budget Office.
The CBO concluded in November that approximately 6.5 million noncitizens who live in the U.S. largely as a result of illegally crossing the southern border before January 2011 would be granted parole and immediately go from being unlawfully present to lawfully present. The proposal would be the largest-ever amnesty, double the size of the one that went through during the Reagan administration in 1986. The term amnesty refers to being pardoned, in this case for the federal offense of illegally entering the country between ports of entry and residing in the U.S. without permission.
“Many of those parolees would subsequently receive lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. A few million other people, most of whom are already in the United States, would gain LPR status through the provisions … or as immediate relatives of those who gain LPR status under the bill,” the CBO stated in its review of H.R. 5376.
All parolees and lawful permanent residents are eligible for a number of federal benefits programs, including subsidies for health insurance under Obamacare, Medicaid, the earned income and child tax credits, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Social Security, and Medicare.
Roughly 3 million of the 6.5 million would be eligible to become lawful permanent residents, the prerequisite for applying to become a U.S. citizen.
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The Migration Policy Institute in Washington estimated in a Nov. 24 brief that up to 7.2 million noncitizens could be granted the ability to live and work in the country.
The conservative Center for Immigration Studies concluded that the bill doing away with the requirement that children have a Social Security number for a parent to obtain the child tax credit could result in $10.5 billion being paid out.
The CBO also found that by granting millions of illegal immigrants the ability to work legally and pay taxes, the bill would increase federal revenue over the next 10 years. In the long run, however, the amnesty would add to federal deficits.
Democrats originally pushed for language in the bill that would have transitioned illegal immigrants to lawful permanent resident status, which would have then allowed them to apply for citizenship. The Senate parliamentarian barred the provision, prompting Democrats to pick up the parole language, which allows illegal immigrants to become lawful permanent residents later. The Immigration and Nationality Act requires that parole be used on a case by case basis by the Department of Homeland Security.
While Democrats have looked at overruling the Senate parliamentarian, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia broke with his party. Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema are two of the chamber’s 50 Democrats and would have to be on board for the bill to pass with 51 votes.
If the Senate amends the bill, the House will have to vote again on the changes.
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