A bicameral group of Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Tuesday in which they requested legislation establishing a pathway to citizenship for essential workers to be included in the second half of the infrastructure package. Texas Democrat Rep. Joaquin Castro leads the effort along with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (MA), Alex Padilla (CA), and Rep. Ted Lieu (CA).
“Essential workers were deemed part of our nation’s critical infrastructure during COVID, but many continue to live in fear of deportation,” tweeted Castro. “President Biden’s infrastructure plan should include citizenship for essential workers so we can build back better.”
The American Families Plan is the second part of Biden’s two-part plan and is set to focus on the care economy, including investments in education and childcare. The lawmakers said that the plan should also prioritize the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, which would offer a pathway to citizenship to undocumented essential workers with an immediate adjustment of status to legal permanent resident if passed. The legislation defines ‘essential worker’ as any individual working in childcare, healthcare, agriculture, construction, emergency response, transportation, food or domestic work.
“For the past year, essential workers have further proven themselves to be a truly important part of our nation’s critical infrastructure and a crucial part of the backbone of our society,” the lawmakers wrote. “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security even designated essential workers as part of our nation’s critical infrastructure. These workers have kept America fed, healthy, and safe throughout this pandemic, and they will be just as essential to our nation’s economic recovery.”
The lawmakers went on to describe the upcoming legislative package as the “best opportunity to recognize and reward the sacrifices and labor of essential workers.”
However, any legislation involving undocumented immigrants is unlikely to gain traction among Republicans. Other Democrat lawmakers who signed include: Sens. Cory Booker (NJ) and Richard Blumenthal (CT) and Reps. Raul Ruiz (CA), Pramila Jayapal (WA), Ruben Gallego (AZ), Juan Vargas (CA), Barbara Lee (CA), James P. McGovern (MA), Adriano Espaillat (NY), Grace Napolitano (CA), Raúl Grijalva (AZ), Tony Cárdenas (CA), Nikema Williams (GA), Diana DeGette (CO), Ro Khanna (CA), and Sara Jacobs (CA).
“Essential workers are American heroes — and they have earned the right to become American citizens,” the lawmakers concluded. “They have stepped up for America. It’s time for us to step up for them.”