Buried in the 1,800 pages of House Democrats’ $3 trillion coronavirus spending bill unveiled Tuesday is a provision that defers law enforcement action on those illegally present in the United States who work in jobs deemed essential.
In Section 191203, the bill states that through the end of the official Department of Health and Human Services-determined “public health emergency” plus 90 days after that, illegal immigrants are “authorized for employment.” Additionally, the bill says the “hiring, employment, or continued employment of an alien” is not a violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which makes it illegal for businesses to employ illegal immigrants.
The bill defines illegal immigrant essential workers as any type of labor or service deemed essential in an advisory memo issued by the Department of Homeland Security, which lists a sweeping range of industries such as food, energy, health, and manufacturing.
A 2019 Pew Research study found that about 11.3 million people are currently living in the United States without legal authorization. The Department of Agriculture estimates that more than half of the nation’s farmworkers are illegal immigrants.
This is not House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s first push to make special rules for illegal immigrants during the coronavirus outbreak. In early May, Pelosi argued that any guaranteed monthly income plan or stimulus cash that Congress works on should apply to illegal immigrants with tax ID numbers or families with “mixed” immigration status.
“We are well-served if we recognize that everybody in our country is part of our community and … helping to grow the economy. Most of what we are doing is to meet the needs of people, but it’s all stimulus, so we shouldn’t cut the stimulus off,” Pelosi said last Thursday.
The House is expected to vote on the bill Friday, but Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not expected to push the measure forward in the Senate.
Read the full text of the bill here.