Ex-Immigration Lawyer Plays Key Role in Immigration Reform

By David North on July 26, 2021

If I reported that there was a key immigration policy player in Joe Biden’s Washington who was an immigration lawyer, the reader might say: “tell me something new.”

The reader would probably think that the person was just another of those numerous immigrant rights attorneys who populate the Biden administration.

The reader, in this case, would be wrong.

The individual in question, though appointed by Democrats to her position as Parliamentarian of the Senate, used to work as a trial attorney for the U.S, Justice Department handling immigration cases, in a law enforcement capacity, and also had clerked for a Reagan appointee to the D.C. federal district court, Royce Lambert. She is Elizabeth MacDonough.

As parliamentarian to the Senate she ruled against the inclusion of a minimum wage increase in Biden’s Covid-19 legislation in February, a decision which must have been a disappointment for the White House.

There currently is some conversation on the Hill about incorporating one or more immigration measures in the budget reconciliation bill now pending. Such a bill, which needs only 50 votes plus Vice President Harris’s tie-breaker, avoids the usual filibuster rules. Using such a bill as a rider, the DACA legalization or the EB-5 (immigrant investor) extension could be written into law – but only if Ms. MacDonough ruled that the inclusions of such provisions were appropriate.

There may be a difference between the minimum wage and the Covid-19 legislation situation and the inclusion of immigration legislation in a reconciliation bill which is invisible to this non-lawyer but obvious to the Parliamentarian. Or there may be no difference.

In any case, the holder of that office may play a decisive role in how the Senate handles one or more proposed changes in the immigration law.