Commentary

It’s time for Biden-Harris & Congress to step up and deliver a path to citizenship

October 8, 2021 5:51 am

“This moment demands bold action and courage from the Senate leadership and the Biden-Harris administration. That is why we are calling on Vice President Harris to use her powers as the President of the Senate to ignore” the parliamentarian’s ruling. (Image by Jackelberry from Pixabay)

It’s time. This is the year, this is our moment. After more than 3 decades without any immigration reform, after countless sit-ins in 2012 to get DACA for undocumented youth, after many, many more rallies and marches, we are closer than ever to passing legislation to create a pathway towards citizenship. Our community has been demonized, our labor exploited, and our families have been deported and separated.

Our country was built by stolen labor of Black, and later Asian people, on the stolen land and resources of Indigenous peoples. And immigrants continue to keep our communities thriving and growing with their labor that is often undervalued and mislabeled as “low skill”. Our community’s economic impact is immense and undeniable. From the fruit that you eat, to the roads you drive on, and the domestic workers you rely on, immigrants are part of the essential infrastructure of this country, whether you like it or not. We can’t build back better without immigrants, and we can’t invest in infrastructure without supporting the immigrant community.  Immigration is essential.

We know that immigrants are valuable as human beings and community members, not just the labor they can provide. But unfortunately, our leaders seem to only think in terms of dollar signs. So here are some facts: In Nevada alone, undocumented immigrants account for 241.6 million in federal tax dollars and 13.7 billion dollars in spending power according to a 2018 study. To say that passing a pathway to citizenship outweighs the economic impact is extremely misguided. Providing a pathway to citizenship for DACA, TPS and undocumented essential workers would boost the GDP by a cumulative total of $1.5 trillion over 10 years and create 400,800 new jobs. This boost the economy would experience from bringing roughly 6 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows is more than sufficient to meet the Byrd rule. So for those deficit hawks, here’s your chance to put your values into action.

Despite the massive contributions to keep this country running throughout this pandemic, too many immigrant households have had to put aside their health and safety in order to keep their families afloat throughout the pandemic. Last year during the height of the pandemic, our families fearlessly carried on despite the fear of deportation and being left behind by Congress. Many of our community members didn’t have the luxury of receiving unemployment insurance benefits when laid off, or receiving a stimulus check to help make ends meet. Our families had to rely on community organizations to fill in some of the gaps with programs such as the Esperanza Fund, food banks and even for translation of COVID-19 information. We can’t move forward from the pandemic without lifting up immigrant essential workers and providing them with green cards and a pathway to citizenship; it is long overdue relief. Congress can’t leave these Nevada families behind again.

We can no longer use immigration as a talking point. Nevada needs Congress to deliver on a pathway to citizenship now more than ever. Time is running out and Congressional leadership must keep their promises to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework along with a Budget Reconciliation bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for DACA, TPS, essential workers and farm workers. We cannot let an unelected senate official (and former attorney for ICE) unilaterally put a halt to legalization for millions through reconciliation, when voters have spoken and the will of the people are calling for it. This moment demands bold action and courage from the Senate leadership and the Biden-Harris administration. That is why we are calling on Vice President Harris to use her powers as the President of the Senate to ignore her opinion.

The two rulings by the parliamentarian and the countless declarations in the media that the door is closed on a pathway to citizenship through the budget reconciliation process will not stop our movement. Our lucha continues.

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Rosa Molina
Rosa Molina

Rosa Molina is the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada's Immigration Services Director for Northern Nevada, and has helped thousands of immigrants all over the state adjust their status including citizenship, DACA, and work permits.

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