Castro, Warren urge Biden to include immigration legislation in infrastructure plan

by | Apr 14, 2021 | Immigration/Border, Policy

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are among 22 members of Congress urging Biden to include a pathway to citizenship in his major infrastructure plan and legislative package, the American Families Plan. 

The lawmakers penned a letter Wednesday pushing Biden to include H.R. 1909 and S. 747 into his legislative package. Both bills would offer a pathway to U.S. citizenship for undocumented essential workers, 

“Over 5 million of these workers are undocumented immigrants,” lawmakers wrote, “they are among the farmworkers, meatpackers, nurses, janitors, construction workers, grocery store clerks, truck drivers, restaurant cooks, domestic workers, home health care aides, emergency first responders, and so many others who have stepped up for our nation during this unprecedented crisis.” 

“Essential workers also paid a terrible toll this past year,” they continued. “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.”

Roughly two-thirds of all undocumented immigrants work in frontline jobs at essential industries. The Citizenship for Essential Workers Act would allow undocumented Americans working in those industries to apply for legal permanent resident status. The legislation would also repeal the three and ten-year bars for re-entry; a provision in U.S. law that prevents immigrants from obtaining permanent residence if they entered the country without a green card.

A pathway to citizenship for many of these essential workers would be critical in “building back” the economy, lawmakers said. 

In a statement, Congressman Castro said the pandemic has shown how America’s critical infrastructure can collapse without hardworking immigrants. “In fact, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security deemed essential workers as part of our nation’s critical infrastructure,” Castro said.

“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,” he said.

Freshman Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) introduced the Senate version of the bill last month along with Congressman Castro, who introduced the House version. The bill is co-sponsored by nine Senators so far, including Warren, Sens. Cory Brooker (D-NJ), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY).

In January, at least 100 lawmakers led by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to offer a pathway to citizenship for undocumented essential workers in the House COVID relief package, but it was ultimately not included in the $1.9 trillion relief bill that passed both chambers in March.

Photos: Scott Eisen/Getty Images and Jacquelyn Martin – Pool/Getty Images

This is an advertisement paid for by Every Texan.
fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

Are you tired of Texas Republicans pushing big lies and trying to steal your vote? So are we, that’s why we’re fighting back against the right-wing lie machine. Our commitment to ethical, fact-based journalism is vital to our democracy, and we can’t do it without you. Consider donating today to help us stay in this fight.

Continue Reading

Texas Senate passes anti-trans sports bill

Texas Senate passes anti-trans sports bill

The Texas Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would ban trans youth from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity. The Republican-led Senate voted 19-12 in favor of passing the legislation. This is the fourth time the proposed law has come...

Will Democrats have to stomach a former Bush strategist?

Will Democrats have to stomach a former Bush strategist?

Matthew Dowd has been teasing at a run for statewide office in Texas, particularly a bid against Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. The former George W. Bush strategist turned political pundit shares a similar journey to a number of other conservatives who have switched sides...