Supporting a Pathway to Citizenship for Essential Workers
May 17, 2021
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, around 5.2 million undocumented essential workers in every state across the U.S. continued working in critical industries, including as health care providers and agricultural workers. Despite being an integral part of our communities and contributing to our shared wellbeing, these mothers, fathers, siblings, friends, and neighbors do not have an assured, safe path to citizenship. Nearly one million essential workers are Dreamers with no pathway to permanent status in the U.S. currently. It is time for this to change.
On May 12, Senator Alex Padilla chaired a subcommittee hearing focused on legislation which would provide a pathway to citizenship for essential immigrant workers. The Citizenship for Essential Workers Act creates a pathway to citizenship for over 5 million undocumented essential workers in the U.S. The bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Alex Padilla and Elizabeth Warren and in the House by Representatives Joaquin Castro and Ted Lieu.
NETWORK Lobby submitted a statement for the record for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety’s hearing, highlighting the vital role of undocumented essential workers in our society. Immigrants have always been at the heart of our communities, and the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized that without essential immigrant workers, we cannot survive. Undocumented workers have been working on the frontlines of the pandemic without vital benefits and protections. We can no longer treat essential immigrant workers as expendable.
NETWORK’s statement tells the story of Jose*, an undocumented student and worker who overcame the odds to receive approval for DACA. Despite Jose’s achievements, he lived in fear of what may happen to him and his family without the security of U.S. citizenship status. Undocumented workers are the backbone of our society and should not live in fear. No one should live in fear in the United States. Our immigration system has been broken for decades and we must build anew with a vision of inclusion and welcome for the future of our country.
All people in the United States, regardless of immigration status, make up one single community. Policies that prevent immigrant families from accessing citizenship, permanent legal residence, or needed resources for food, housing, and health care are unjust and hurt not only immigrant families but also our entire national community. It is time to respect and honor the human dignity of undocumented immigrants in the United States by providing an accessible pathway to citizenship.
- Read NETWORK’s full statement.
- Watch the Senate Subcommittee hearing.
- Hear directly from farmworkers by re-watching the 2020 Virtual Nuns on the Bus site visit with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Alliance for Fair Food.