WASHINGTON, DC – Immigrant advocates yesterday reaffirmed support for the inclusion of immigration relief in the Build Back Better Act put forth in the White House framework last week, and the actual legislation being advanced currently in the House. The House is set to vote on these measures today.
In addition to providing long term protection from deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants, the plan would allow people who have lived in the U.S for at least 10 years (and who have lived on average in the U.S for at least 20 years) to access long term work permits to support their families, more fully participate in their communities, access life-saving health care, and gain the ability to travel abroad to reunite with family they have been separated from, often for decades.
Advocates acknowledged that while the legislation is short of the explicit pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants that is needed, it would represent the most significant immigration measure passed by Congress in decades. For years directly impacted people have stood with strength and courage to demand protections for their families and communities. Now, the onus is on Congress to take meaningful action to secure these protections and deliver results from this bill to communities across the country
Speakers on yesterday’s call included people directly impacted by this important legislation, as well as leaders of notable immigrant rights organizations, including:
- Maria Praeli, Dreamer and FWD.us Government Relations Manager
- Julio Calderon, Dreamer who remains unprotected by DACA
- Teresa Romero, President of United Farm Workers
- Rocio Sáenz, SEIU Executive Vice President
- Jess Morales Rocketto, Executive Director of Care in Action
- Clarissa Martínez De Castro, Deputy Vice President of UnidosUS
- Alida Garcia, Vice President of Advocacy at FWD.us
Below please find quotes from advocates and directly impacted people:
“I’m ready to give back to this country, but that can only happen when we deliver on protections for people like me. This plan must include the opportunity we have been waiting for, to finally let go of the fear of deportation. I want to be able to apply to the job I want with the degree I earned. I want to travel back to Honduras to see the family members I haven’t seen for 16 years,” said Julio Calderon, a Dreamer in Miami, Florida who never qualified for protections under the DACA program because he arrived to the U.S. just 30 days after his 16th birthday.
“After decades of political games and legislative disappointments, we have a real opportunity to pass transformative immigration relief for millions of undocumented individuals – the ability to work, live safe of deportation, and travel more freely – and while the provisions in the House bill fall short of a pathway to citizenship that we need, they would still provide immeasurable opportunities for so many members of our communities,” said Maria Praeli, Dreamer and FWD.us Government Relations Manager.
“We need every Democrat to swiftly vote to pass the Build Back Better Act with the currently drafted immigration provisions. There will be no participation trophies for trying. The success of this effort will be judged by actually delivering results from this bill to communities across America,” said Alida Garcia, Vice President of Advocacy at FWD.us.
“America is a house built and maintained through the sweat, love and care of both citizens and aspiring citizens. We are here today because we have an opportunity to make a down-payment on that house. It is less than what America deserves, and less than what the vast majority of Americans support. But it is what is possible in this reconciliation process, and we are not going to let Congress leave America empty-handed again,” said Clarissa Martinez De Castro, Deputy Vice President for Policy and Advocacy at UnidosUS.
“There is more work to be done, but the permit program would create real and tangible relief for undocumented people. We cannot miss this chance to secure these things for millions of undocumented immigrants — to work without fear of exploitation, live without fear of deportation, and travel without fear of being separated from home and family,” said Teresa Romero, President of United Farm Workers.
“Democrats cannot Build Back Better without providing immigration protections and benefits. Immigrant workers risked their lives and put their own families at risk by continuing to work throughout the pandemic. Essential workers make all other work possible, they came through for the American public, we must now come through for them. It is absolutely essential that we deliver this year,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, Executive Director of Care in Action.