For Immediate Release
January 22, 2021
RELEASE: Experts and Advocates Discuss Legalization of Undocumented Essential Workers in Economic Recovery as More Than 500 Organizations Call on Congress To Act
Washington, D.C. — As President Joe Biden and Congress begin work on a coronavirus relief and economic recovery package, a diverse group of more than 500 national, state, and local organizations representing a broad range of interests and constituencies wrote to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The signatories requested that Congress use all necessary legislative tools to include in such legislation permanent protection and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, particularly Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and the estimated 5 million undocumented workers who have been on the front lines during this pandemic, as well as their families.
The letter was released during a press call featuring experts and advocates who articulated why including a path to citizenship for these individuals is a critical tool to ensure that the recovery is as bold, dynamic, inclusive, and equitable as it needs to be to meet the many challenges the country is facing today.
After the press call, Tom Jawetz, vice president of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, said:
For the coronavirus relief and economic recovery package to rise to the multiple challenges facing the country today—for it to be sufficiently dynamic and equitable—it must include permanent protection and a path to citizenship for undocumented essential workers and their families, as well as Dreamers and TPS holders, who have long contributed to this country and who continue to show up when we need them most. Congress must use every tool at its disposal—including the budget reconciliation process—to lay the groundwork for a recovery that is resilient and just.
Felicia Wong, president and CEO at the Roosevelt Institute, said:
When COVID-19 struck, more than 5 million undocumented essential workers kept our economy going at great risk to themselves and their families. Enough is enough. We must build an inclusive economy that works for all; we must make sure that essential workers have legal protections. It is not just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do. It’s good for the economy.
The deputy vice president for Policy and Advocacy at UnidosUS, Clarissa Martínez-de-Castro, added:
We cannot have the health and economic recovery that we need for the nation if we don’t include all those who are caring for our country. We have an opportunity to do just that, and it includes citizens and immigrants alike. Immigrant workers have been standing up for us, and now it is our time to stand up for them. We are doing just that by fighting for the inclusion and protection of these workers in relief and economic recovery legislation and using every legislative tool, including a budget reconciliation. The Biden administration priorities of addressing COVID 19, racial justice, and economic recovery, all in the context of unifying the country around shared values, require us and Congress to move forward boldly.
Montserrat Garibay, secretary-treasurer at the Texas AFL-CIO, said:
When our country extends rights and protections to more workers, we all benefit. When more people are forced to work in fear and without rights, we are all at greater risk. So, we all have a stake in the immigration fight. It directly affects our ability to lift labor standards, keep all workers safe, and build worker power.
Dr. Diana Andino, a neurology specialist and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, said:
I am one of the estimated 29,000 DACA recipients who are health care workers. During my time in medical school, I dealt with the fear and anxiety of not having a legal status. I managed to push through, and this in some way prepared me to navigate some of the hardest moments and challenges of a global health pandemic. I am hopeful that we can heal together as a nation, but in order to do so, I hope that this country recognizes the people who are taking care of us. I am on the front lines, and I want to have the peace of mind of a permanent legal status so that I can continue caring for my patients and community.
Click here to read the letter and see the list of signatories.
For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Claudia Montecinos at cmontecinos@americanprogress.
The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”