A group of Senate Democrats demanded Saturday that a new extension of tentative legal status for would-be illegal immigrants be part of any year-end spending package, throwing a new wrinkle into an already touchy debate over avoiding a government shutdown.
Led by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, the Democrats called for an 18-month extension of Temporary Protected Status for more than 400,000 migrants from six countries who currently are protected from deportation under the program.
The Trump administration has tried to end the status for those countries, saying conditions have improved enough in places like El Salvador and Haiti that the migrants should go back home.
But Democrats say they should be given permanent status here and, in the meantime, should be granted an extension of their current protections.
In particular, Democrats said, more than 130,000 TPS holders work in food, transportation or other areas of the economy that are considered essential during the coronavirus pandemic.