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Rep. Ruiz and Advocates Call on White House to Continue Promises for Legalization in COVID Relief Legislation

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A recording of the call is available here.


Earlier today, immigration advocates joined a press call to stress the critical need for the Biden administration to continue on their promises of sweeping legislative proposals that would ensure legalization for immigrants is included in the next COVID-19/economic recovery package. On day one, President Biden led with historic actions leaning into pro-immigrant legislative plans, making immigration issues a priority, and unifying Democrats around a series of proposals, including legislation to create a road map to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants. Immigrants have always been essential, but their contributions and sacrifices have never been more clearly recognized or sorely needed than during the past year, which is why the administration should press on for relief aid for immigrant workers.

Legislation such as the Dream Act, the SECURE Act (to legalize TPS holders) and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act provide frameworks that would legalize large numbers of essential workers and immigrants. Now, Congress must honor these heroes and honor their sacrifices and contributions with a path to legalization in the second major COVID relief legislative package under President Biden, which is being crafted now and is expected to be considered later this year. 

Rep. Raul Ruiz (CA-36), Chairman, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said, “I am a proud son of farmworkers, who worked day in and day out with calloused hands and tired backs to give their children opportunities they never had. I know the sacrifices that farmworkers make to feed America, and now, as a public health expert, I have seen their vulnerability to COVID-19 firsthand. Essential workers who risk their lives for us are indispensable, and they should be treated as such by our immigration system. As we look to recover from this pandemic, we must recognize the moral imperative to prioritize a pathway to citizenship for essential workers. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus will continue to work towards its goal until all immigrant essential workers who call America home have a chance to become US citizens. Immigrants fuel our economy, work in every American industry, and reflect the best of America’s values.”

Lorella Praeli, President of Community Change Action and Co-Chair of the We Are Home Campaign, said, “Our time is now. The Democrats have a tool at their disposal to legalize millions of people without depending on Republican votes. We need to get legalization for essential workers, for Dreamers, for TPS holders, and for farmworkers in the next reconciliation package. That does not mean we are abandoning our goal of citizenship for the 11 million. But it does mean that we see an immediate path for millions now, and we will make this reconciliation fight a definitional fight for the Democrats. Good-faith attempts will not be enough. The question for us will be are the Democrats using their power to actually deliver for our communities.” 

“There are millions of essential workers in the U.S. who are undocumented immigrants, Dreamers and TPS recipients,” said Sergio Gonzales, Executive Director of the Immigration Hub. “They have played a critical role in helping our country get through this devastating pandemic as healthcare workers, caregivers, farmworkers and delivery drivers – to name a few. But despite their sacrifices and contributions, they live everyday with the threat of deportation from their home. This is unacceptable and the White House and Congress must ensure that they are not left behind in the next COVID relief package.”

Greisa Martinez Rosas, Executive Director, United We Dream, said, President Biden and the Democratic party have the moral imperative to use every tool at their disposal to deliver on immigration. The COVID-19 pandemic and the deliberate decision by politicians to make sure that Black and Brown people are disproportionately impacted by the virus have laid waste to our communities. In the past year, immigrants have been left out of all COVID-19 relief, despite risking our lives to keep our country safe, fed, and healthy. We have been denied the critical healthcare and financial assistance to survive. The health and economic recovery of our nation from COVID-19 is dependent on immigrants. Undocumented people must be included in COVID relief packages and deserve the legislation that will change our lives.”

“It is important that Congress and President Biden keep their promise and do all they can to ensure citizenship for these individuals [TPS holders],” said Patrice S. Lawrence, Co-Director, UndocuBlack Network. “These folks have lived and worked in the United States for over a decade. They have also been on the frontline as it relates to COVID-19: they are in rural communities, urban areas and are often the last ones to receive attention and care because of the work that they do. They have advocated and were promised citizenship by this Administration, and now we see that that is possible and must happen in the reconciliation package that is upcoming in Congress. While citizenship doesn’t solve all problems, we do believe that it will give them the dignity and stability that they are owed.”

Leydy Rangel, UFW Foundation, said, “Every summer, my family and I chase the harvest as migrant farmworkers. For nearly an entire year, all farmer workers have survived to produce our food in this pandemic. Fruits and vegetables cannot be harvested through Zoom. COVID-19 death rates have been higher for farmworkers and other essential workers. Undocumented farmworker families like mine face another menace: our lack of legal status. We cannot wait for relief any longer. President Biden offers new hope for permanently protecting Dreamers, TPS holders, and farmworkers from deportation. Congress must honor the essential workers who harvest our food. We ask President Biden & Congressional leadership to include immigration reform for essential workers in the COVID-19 relief package.”