A bicameral group of Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Tuesday requesting he prioritize legislation that would offer a pathway to citizenship to undocumented essential workers in the second part of his two-part infrastructure package set to address education and childcare.
In the letter obtained by CNN, the lawmakers said they want Biden to include H.R. 1909/S. 747, the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, as a priority in the American Families Plan, the name of the second part of Biden’s two-part plan.
The Citizenship for Essential Workers Act would provide a pathway to citizenship for more than 5 million undocumented essential workers with an immediate adjustment of status to legal permanent resident if it’s passed.
In the legislation, any undocumented immigrant who works in child care, health care, agriculture, construction, emergency response, transportation, food, domestic work and other essential jobs would be able to apply for citizenship.
“The upcoming legislative package on jobs and infrastructure is the best opportunity to recognize and reward the sacrifices and labor of essential workers,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
“Essential workers also paid a terrible toll this past year,” the lawmakers added.
“They are unable to work from home, often live in crowded conditions with their families, work in industries with unsafe conditions, and earn poverty level wages. Thus, the pandemic only worsened their living situations, compounding on the grim socio-economic and racial disparities in our country. A path to citizenship for essential workers is a critical part of building our economy back better.”
This effort — led by Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Alex Padilla of California and Reps. Joaquin Castro of Texas and Ted Lieu of California — is the latest try from Democrats to get legislation that would offer undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship passed in this Congress.
“Essential workers are American heroes and they have earned American citizenship,” Castro said in a statement to CNN. “As we seek to build back better, it is crucial that our economy and society be rebuilt on a fairer foundation that fully includes immigrant essential workers.”
The first part of Biden’s infrastructure plan, named the American Jobs Plan, would improve the nation’s infrastructure and shifting to greener energy over the next eight years, costing about $2 trillion.
The American Jobs Plan is the first of a two-part proposal to help the nation’s economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden is expected to unveil the American Families Plan in the coming weeks. It will focus on the “care economy,” including investments in education and childcare.
Congressional Republicans have said they won’t negotiate on any legislation involving undocumented immigrants if it doesn’t also include stringent border security provisions and restrictions on asylum seekers to include in any such proposal.
In addition to the House and Senate sponsors of the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, other lawmakers who signed include: Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Richard Blumenthal of Conecticut and Reps. Raul Ruiz of California, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Ruben Gallego of Arizona, Juan Vargas of California, Barbara Lee of California, James P. McGovern of Massachusetts, Adriano Espaillat of New York, Grace Napolitano of California, Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, Tony Cárdenas of California, Nikema Williams of Georgia, Diana DeGette of Colorado, Ro Khanna of California, and Sara Jacobs of California.