The Democrats passed their Build Back Better reconciliation bill in the House without a single Republican vote, and they aren’t likely to get any Republican votes in the Senate either. Thus, whether it passes in the Senate depends on whether all 50 Senate Democrats vote for it.

At least one Democratic Senator has serious reservations about it, and I don’t think he is the only one.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is concerned about a number of things in the bill, but I am going to discuss only his concern about the bill’s immigration parole provision, which would provide temporary lawful status and work authorization to more than 7 million undocumented aliens who have been living here continuously for more than ten years.

Manchin is not opposed to a legalization program; in fact, he has said that he is “totally committed to trying to help” immigrants — but he does not think we should be establishing a legalization program while we are in the midst of a border crisis.

To be talking about a legalization program without border security is ludicrous. The average person turns on the TV and sees what's going on at the border, and it scares the bejesus out him. If migrants think they can make an illegal entry and then get all the benefits that American citizens are entitled to, they're going to continue to come.

Manchin says previous immigration and amnesty proposals have included significant border security provisions to gain support from moderate Democrats and some Republicans. He would be open to that kind of deal.

That was the approach used to get bi-partisan support for the last big legalization program, which was established by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA).

Manchin also has said that he is not going to vote to overrule the Senate parliamentarian if she recommends removing the parole provision from the bill because it doesn’t come within the rules for reconciliation.


Published originally on the Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him at