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Biden’s Roadmap to Citizenship Bolsters Real People and Communities While Strengthening our Nation

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America’s Self Interest is Served by Helping Those Who Help Us

The Biden administration’s Day One plan to begin reversing the cruelty and chaos of Trump’s war on immigrants offers a sweeping legislative proposal that would include a roadmap to citizenship and aggressive use of executive actions. Recent PRRI polling and Gallup polling show the broad popularity of these proposed measures, which will not only benefit 11 million undocumented immigrants, but would provide a new day for our nation as a whole.

As noted in the Gallup poll, for the first time in its 55 years of polling on immigration, “more Americans support increasing immigration than decreasing it.” George Will’s syndicated Washington Post column, titled, “Immigration is the sincerest form of flattery. This country needs a good hit of it,” analyzes the positive impact that Biden’s plan will have on our country as well as the economic impact of having a workforce replenished by immigrants. Will, an arch conservative who has expressed skepticism about immigration reform in the past, argues, correctly, that immigration will help the US regain its economic power. He makes the case clearly for why Biden’s vision in the Day One legislative bill is so important for the country:

“Today, anti-immigration sentiment is disproportionately concentrated among recent Republican voters who are timid nationalists dismayed by the decoupling of the nation from their conceptions of it. Strangely, they fear that the United States cannot be itself if it is as welcoming to immigrants as it was when they were making the United States the success that it is.”

While immigration reform bolsters our nation as a whole, recent reporting from Jeff Gammage at the Philadelphia Inquirer also delves into the stories of real people and real communities who will be strengthened by this roadmap for citizenship and a chance to fully participate in American society without fear. As Gammage references, undocumented immigrants have long been treated by politicians and the press as separate from society and stereotyped as recently arrived single men with few roots in the U.S. But the reality is quite different. Most (60%) undocumented immigrants have lived in the U.S. for more than a decade and some for considerably longer. Almost four and a half million U.S. citizens have one or more parents who are undocumented. Of the 11 million undocumented immigrants, 1.6 million are married to US citizens (another 475,000 are married to green card holders) and a path to citizenship would ultimately provide 50,000 people in Philadelphia alone a route to legal status that would improve the region’s economy and keep families together. 

“‘It’s opportunity — opportunity that’s not available in my country,’ said an undocumented Jamaican woman in her 30s, who came to Philadelphia with her child under a legal visa, but won’t be going back. ‘I want to be able to give my daughter those opportunities. … This is the land where the possibilities are endless, as long as you work hard…’ She came here about two years ago as violent crime ran rampant in Jamaica.

‘The American ideal is anchored in the notion that every individual is an equal citizen,’ said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigrant group in Washington. ‘The idea of 11 million enjoying the rights of citizenship is [striking] a real blow for equality, a real blow for justice.’”