Immigrants, experts and activist groups defended before the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship and Border Security the Essential Workers Bill, which would grant naturalization to some five million people, including dreamers and TPS recipients.
The panel, chaired by the Democrat Alex Padilla (California), highlighted the work of immigrants who have contributed to the United States in different sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nurse Rose Tilus, A native of Haiti and a TPS carrier, who lives in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, spoke of the fear that immigrants with provisional protections live, not being able to apply for a permanent benefit, a sentiment that intensified with the uncertainty due to the pandemic.
“After 10 years of living in the US without certainty, I was able to obtain a work permit that allowed me to study; I took advantage of the opportunities in nursing… during this pandemic I have been on the front line, ”said Tilus. “Other TPS recipients have joined me in the battle against COVID-19.”
The immigrant said she caught the coronavirus, but soon recovered and returned to work.
A report at the beginning of the pandemic of the Center for American Progress (CAP) revealed that 202,500 recipients of the Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and 131,300 foreigners assigned to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras were essential front-line workers, such as the case of Tilus.
Senator Padilla, who took the position left by the vice president Kamala Harris, highlighted the project S. 747 or Citizenship Law for Essential Workers, which was also introduced in the House of Representatives as the HR 1909.
The plan is driven by representatives Joaquin castro (Texas) and Ted Location (California) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts), although endorsed by at least 18 other congressmen.
Padilla is the first Latino to chair the Subcommittee in the Senate.
“Today I will preside over the first hearing of the Immigration Subcommittee … the first Latino senator to do so,” he wrote on Twitter prior to the event. “We are going to discuss the essential role of immigrant workers and we need to thank them with a path to the citizenship they deserve.”
Today, I will chair my first @JudiciaryDems Immigration Subcommittee hearing—the first Latino U.S. Senator to do so. We will be discussing the essential role of immigrant workers and the need to thank them with a pathway to citizenship that they deserve. #ImmigrantsAreEssential
— Senator Alex Padilla (@SenAlexPadilla) May 12, 2021
Padilla, whose parents are migrants, considered it a debt for essential workers to pass immigration reform, which would also benefit the country economically.
Republican Senator John Cornyn (Texas), responsible for obtaining the votes of its bench, considered that Congress “has not done its job” regarding immigration reform, but considered that the law under debate is not viable, especially because it does not address the issue of border security.
Your bench colleague Ted Cruz (Texas), who was not there for the entire hearing, criticized the bill.
“It is a dangerous, radical … immoral law,” he said and accused Democrats of wanting an open border policy to encourage irregular migration, in addition to the fact that the approval of the project would affect American workers. “It is the opposite of compassion, it is the opposite of humanity.” He appealed for the law against illegal immigrants to be applied.
After Cruz’s intervention, Senator Padilla asked the Dr. Tom K. Wong, associate professor of political science and founder and director of the University of California, San Diego’s Center for Immigration Policy (USIPC), if there were reports that providing citizenship to undocumented immigrants would affect American workers.
“Approving citizenship for the undocumented will not generate mass migration,” said Wong, who recalled a 1986 reform did not increase this type of immigration. “In fact, migration to the United States was reduced”. He also cited an immigration reform attempt in 2006 that did not encourage undocumented travel to the United States.
Also participating in the hearing Bruce Goldstein, president of Justice of the Agricultural Workers; the Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, and Ronald Vitiello, former head of the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Backrest and pressure
The project has a long road ahead, but the president Joe Biden has expressed support for a plan that “at least” grants citizenship to “dreamers”, TPS carriers and farm workers.
The movement We Are Home, which promotes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, highlighted the efforts of Democratic congressmen, including the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (California), the Senate Majority Speaker, Chuck Schumer (New York), Senator Bob Menéndez (New Jersey), as well as Senator Padilla.
The activists considered that the next 100 days are “critical” to pass the reform, which would be the most comprehensive since 1986.
“With the support of the majority of the American public and the collective power of our movement, We will work with Democrats to ensure we legalize as many people as possible after decades of inaction.“, Indicated the group made up of several organizations. “Unlike what Republicans may have you believe, the time is now.”
They noted that immigrant benefits have multiple routes from Congress, referring to the various laws that have been proposed in recent months, including President Biden’s 2021 Citizenship Act; the Dream and Promise Law and the Agricultural Workforce Modernization Law, the latter already approved in the House of Representatives.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.