Hispanic Caucus endorses essential worker immigration bill
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) on Thursday officially endorsed a bill that would grant a path to citizenship for more than 5 million workers who were deemed essential during the pandemic.
The bill, Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and in the House by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), would grant permanent residency to workers in a range of industries who’ve performed their labor during the pandemic.
The 38-member CHC on Wednesday achieved its 25-member threshold to formally endorse the bill, which would complement other immigration bills that have already cleared the House.
“The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is proud to endorse the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, a bicameral piece of legislation introduced by CHC Members Sen. Alex Padilla and Rep. Joaquin Castro,” said CHC Chairman Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.).
“Immigrant essential workers have been on the frontlines working to keep us safe, healthy, and fed during the pandemic. The Department of Homeland Security designated these immigrant workers as essential and part of our country’s infrastructure. Supporting essential workers means supporting economic growth and productivity for our nation,” added Ruiz.
Padilla, who despite being second from last in Senate seniority chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety, held a hearing on the importance of essential workers Wednesday where he highlighted the role of immigrant essential workers to the U.S. economy.
“I’m grateful to have the support of my CHC colleagues behind our effort to create a pathway to citizenship for immigrant essential workers,” said Padilla.
“To ensure a strong, equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must honor immigrant essential workers with more than our words. They have earned a pathway to citizenship,” added Padilla.
The essential workers bill is one of three bills in consideration that focus on granting undocumented immigrants the right to live and work in the United States.
The two others, the Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, would grant their benefits to specific groups of immigrants: Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries for the former, and farm workers for the latter.
Both of those bills have passed the House but have not yet been considered by the Senate.
And neither the House-passed bills nor the essential workers bill are expected to have enough Senate Republican support to overcome a filibuster.
Democratic advocates of immigration reform with a path to citizenship have become increasingly vocal in advocating for Senate leaders to include parts of the bills in a reconciliation package that would avoid the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold.
It’s unclear whether the administration has enough Senate Democrat support to pass a large infrastructure or jobs package through reconciliation, or whether including immigration provisions would garner the support of all 50 Democrats in the Senate.
But supporters of a path to citizenship are betting on a third bill passing the House to increase pressure on any potential Democratic Senate holdouts.
“Congress needs to honor the dedication, sacrifice, and grit of these essential workers, who are the invisible heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a pathway to citizenship,” said Castro.
“After a horrific year of pandemic, four years of [former President] Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant cruelty, and decades of bipartisan failures to address a deeply broken immigration system, we cannot let the American people down again with inaction,” he added.
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