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Listen to Powerful Voices from Across America: This is the Year to Deliver Citizenship for Millions

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Stop the distractions, deliver the solutions

Last week, the anniversary of DACA and the Senate hearing on the “American Dream and Promise Act of 2021” refocused the immigration debate on citizenship. As Congress reconvenes this week, momentum continues on behalf of the legislative push, as community voices and local mobilizations are offering a reminder why it’s time to build on the successes of DACA to deliver permanent status and citizenship to millions of Dreamers, TPS holders, farm workers, essential workers, and the rest of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America.  

See below for key examples and excerpts:

  • Immigrant workers, allies embark on nine-day march to Madison to call for immigration reform in Wisconsin and nationally, in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “…protesters were sent off to Madison to the roaring sounds of Colombian drums and chants of ‘si se puede’ (yes we can) in front of Voces de la Frontera’s Milwaukee office Sunday. Over the course of nine days, a core group of eight to 10 marchers affiliated with Voces de la Frontera is marching from Milwaukee to Madison to pressure the Biden administration to add a pathway to citizenship in the American Jobs Plan, a $1.9 trillion infrastructure proposal, and the state legislature to allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses.
  • …Voces de la Frontera is not pegging its support for citizenship to any one particular proposal, though advocates want to see it apply to broad swaths of the immigrant population besides just recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or those with Temporary Protected Status.”
  • Hundreds rally for citizenship for undocumented immigrants in NJ, from The Star-Ledger/NJ.com: “Hundreds took to the streets of Elizabeth on the sweltering holiday to advocate for Congress to pass major immigration reform. The event, which began and concluded in Mattano Park, was orchestrated by Make the Road New Jersey, an organization that advocates for immigrant and working class families throughout the Garden State.
  • ‘We are here today calling for three things: a roadmap that provides citizenship for all, a plan for family reunification, and a humane immigration system,’ [a participant whose father was deported when she was 5 years old Giovana] Castaneda told the crowd. ‘My family is only one of millions of families that have been separated within the United States, and this has to end now. We need a pathway to citizenship for all.’ Spanish and English speakers called for New Jersey’s Democratic U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker to use the reconciliation process to create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for most of the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, including essential workers, Temporary Protected Status holders, and farmworkers.”
  • Why TPS holders must have a path to permanent status, op-ed in Austin American-Statesman by TPS holder Namrata Pokhrel: “Six years ago, after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck my home in Nepal, I found a much-needed lifeline: an opportunity to travel to the United States as a Temporary Protected Status holder. The temporary designation, given to immigrants fleeing natural disasters, ongoing conflict and other extraordinary circumstances, allowed me to rebuild my life after losing everything. It also afforded me opportunities I could have only dreamed of as a single mother in Nepal. Those opportunities may vanish if Congress fails to pass legislation creating a pathway to permanent status for TPS holders.”
  • Nine years later, Dreamers need stability, a path to citizenship, op-ed in Detroit Free Press by DACA recipient Kevin Vazquez: “I came to the U.S. from Guadalajara, Mexico, at the age of eight, and I have called the Grand Rapids area home ever since. I was raised here, have extended family here, and, thanks to DACA, I have been able to study and pursue a career in public service here. I spent eight years earning my associate degree from Grand Rapids Community College, which I was able to self-fund thanks to my DACA work authorization.
  • …While DACA has helped me build my life in Grand Rapids, the program is by no means a perfect solution for Dreamers. Too few undocumented immigrants are eligible for the program due to arbitrary age cut offs. Dreamers who are fortunate enough to qualify for DACA must renew our status every two years. Most troubling is that the DACA program can be terminated on a dime. Although the program survived a Supreme Court challenge last year from the Trump administration, it can still be shut down and remains subject to further litigation. It does not offer the true stability that Dreamers need.”
  • Stop deporting essential workers who keep America running, Jean Guerrero column in the Los Angeles Times: “Americans have a moral and economic imperative to pass the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for the roughly 5 million people living here illegally who risked their lives on the COVID-19 front lines to keep the United States functioning. About 74% of people in the U.S. illegally are essential workers. Thousands of them, in healthcare, agriculture, food services, construction, child care and more died keeping the economy and Americans alive while working for subpar wages, often without adequate protective equipment.
  • ‘They have absolutely earned the right to live without fear,’ Sen. Alex Padilla, who introduced the bill, told me. California’s first Latino senator, Padilla is a leading advocate for the bill’s inclusion in a reconciliation package on jobs and infrastructure, which may be the best chance to protect this critically important group.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, 

With Congress back in session and Republicans making clear they want a political issue next year rather than a policy breakthrough this year, it’s time for the Democratic majority to use every ounce of their power to enact bills that put millions of undocumented immigrants on pathways to citizenship. 

After all, America is at its best when we expand citizenship to those previously excluded. 

This is the year: to live up to our ideals; to take action supported by the majority; to blow past the bad faith Republicans; to reject the radicalism of Trump’s party; to dismiss their ‘border crisis’ hype; to go big and deliver for the majority that elected you.