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Over 100 Democratic Lawmakers Push for a Pathway to Citizenship for Essential Workers, TPS Holders, and Dreamers in Budget Reconciliation

Feb 1, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—On Saturday, over 100 Democratic lawmakers sent a letter led by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to express their commitment to including a pathway to citizenship for essential workers, TPS holders, and Dreamers in the COVID-19 budget reconciliation package.

“We, the undersigned members, respectfully request that you include a pathway to citizenship for essential immigrant workers and their families, Dreamers, and TPS holders in the COVID-19 reconciliation recovery package given that essential immigrant workers have been, and will continue to be, key to the health and safety of all Americans during the pandemic and will be critical for the economic recovery of the country,” the Members wrote. “As we continue to confront a public health and economic catastrophe that will soon have claimed the lives of more than 450,000 Americans exacerbated deep racial, gender, and economic inequities, it is vital that we include protections for immigrant workers to secure the health of our nation and lay the foundation for a robust and dynamic economic recovery.”

The letter was led by CHC Chairman Raul Ruiz, M.D., and signed by these 100 Members of Congress: Alma S. Adams, Ph.D, Pete Aguilar, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Karen Bass, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Jamaal Bowman, Ed. D., Anthony G. Brown, Julia Brownley, Cori Bush, Salud Carbajal, Tony Cárdenas, André Carson, Joaquin Castro, Judy Chu, David N. Cicilline, Yvette D. Clarke, Emanuel Cleaver, II, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Gerald E. Connolly, Jim Cooper, Lou Correa, Jim Costa, Jason Crow, Henry Cuellar, Danny K. Davis, Rosa L. De. Lauro, Mark DeSaulnier, Mike Doyle, Veronica Escobar, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Ruben Gallego, Jesús G. “Chuy” Garcia, Sylvia R. Garcia, Jimmy Gomez, Vicente Gonzalez, Raúl M. Grijalva, Alcee L. Hastings, Steven Horsford, Sheila Jackson Lee,  Sara Jacobs, Pramila Jayapal, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., Mondaire Jones, Ro Khanna, Ann Kirkpatrick, John B. Larson, Barbara Lee, Teresa Leger Fernández, Andy Levin, Mike Levin, Ted W. Lieu, Zoe Lofgren, Alan Lowenthal, Carolyn B. Maloney, Doris Matsui, James P. McGovern, Jerry McNerney, Grace Meng, Gwen Moore, Grace F. Napolitano, Joe Neguse, Marie Newman, Donald Norcross, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Frank Pallone, Jr., Jimmy Panetta, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Donald M. Payne, Jr., Mark Pocan, Ayanna Pressley, Mike Quigley, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Bobby L. Rush, Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Michael San Nicolas, Linda T. Sánchez, Jan Schakowsky, Albio Sires, Adam Smith, Darren Soto, Greg Stanton, Marilyn Strickland, Mark Takano, Rashida Tlaib, Norma J. Torres, Ritchie Torres, Lori Trahan, David Trone, Juan Vargas, Marc Veasey, Filemon Vela, Nydia M. Velázquez, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Peter Welch, and Nikema Williams.

Full text of the letter can be found here.

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Yarmuth,

We, the undersigned members, respectfully request that you include a pathway to citizenship for essential immigrant workers and their families, Dreamers, and TPS holders in the COVID-19 reconciliation recovery package given that essential immigrant workers have been, and will continue to be, key to the health and safety of all Americans during the pandemic and will be critical for the economic recovery of the country. As we continue to confront a public health and economic catastrophe that will soon have claimed the lives of more than 450,000 Americans exacerbated deep racial, gender, and economic inequities, it is vital that we include protections for immigrant workers to secure the health of our nation and lay the foundation for a robust and dynamic economic recovery. 

An estimated five million[1] undocumented immigrants, including 202,500[2] DACA recipients and 131,300[3] TPS holders, are serving our country everyday as essential workers. They are providing health care as doctors, nurses, and home health aides, and keeping health care settings safe and open as custodians, food servers, and administrative workers. They are protecting the nation’s food security, from working on farms and food processing facilities, to working in grocery stores and restaurants. They are first responders, and they are teachers. Undocumented essential workers have stepped up to serve our country in a time of crisis and should be able to apply for U.S. citizenship. 

The inclusion of protections and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented essential workers and their families would boost economic output and increase average wages for all workers, while playing an important role in addressing the disproportionate impact that the pandemic has had on communities of color. According to President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers[4], the President’s 2014 executive actions providing lawful temporary status to five million immigrants would have boosted economic output in terms of GDP from $90 billion to $210 billion over ten years, and would have increased average wages of native-born workers by 0.1% over ten years.

The economic benefits from permanent protection are even more striking. A 2013 study by the Center for American Progress found that providing a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants would increase cumulative U.S. Gross Domestic Product over 10 years by as much as $1.4 trillion[5], cumulatively increase the income of all Americans by up to $791 billion, and create as many as 203,000 jobs each year over that same period. A pathway to citizenship for undocumented essential workers would raise the wage floor and in turn benefit all workers, beyond direct beneficiaries. The inclusion of these protections is not just a necessity for economic recovery, it is an issue of economic and racial justice for communities that have been the most vulnerable[6] to the crisis and left out in previous relief packages.

As you continue to work on assembling a COVID-19 reconciliation package and begin work on an economic recovery and jobs package, we urge you to include a pathway to citizenship for essential immigrant workers, Dreamers, and TPS holders, as well as their families, in order to ensure a robust recovery that is inclusive and equitable for all Americans regardless of their immigration status. 

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The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, is organized as a Congressional Member organization, governed under the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories. 

 

[1] https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/reports/2020/12/02/493307/protecting-undocumented-workers-pandemics-front-lines/

[2] https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/news/2020/04/06/482708/demographic-profile-daca-recipients-frontlines-coronavirus-response/

[3] https://www.americanprogress.org/press/release/2020/04/14/483197/release-130000-tps-holders-serving-essential-workers-coronavirus-crisis/

[4]https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/docs/economic_effects_of_immigration_ea_february_2015_update_final_v2.pdf

[5] https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/reports/2013/03/20/57351/the-economic-effects-of-granting-legal-status-and-citizenship-to-undocumented-immigrants/

[6] https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2020/05/04/484339/workers-color-disproportionately-risk-serious-complications-coronavirus/