TALLAHASSEE, FL — Yesterday, FWD.us hosted a private conversation with Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09), directly impacted individuals, and immigration advocates to discuss the plight of undocumented workers and the push for citizenship. Throughout the pandemic, undocumented immigrants have been on the frontlines, serving as essential workers in key industries such as healthcare and food production. Their contributions have kept our economy moving forward and prepared us to emerge stronger from the pandemic. Yesterday’s conversation focused on legislative and community efforts to open an earned pathway to citizenship for these frontline workers, ensuring that they are not separated from their homes, families and jobs.
The conversation comes just days after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Dream and Promise Act (H.R.6) on a bipartisan vote, vital legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship for millions of Dreamers and TPS holders who have contributed to the United States for decades. Individuals eligible for protections under the Dream and Promise Act are already employed and working in American communities, where they contribute billions of dollars in GDP and tax revenue each year in every state in the country. Florida alone is home to roughly 390,000 undocumented immigrant essential workers, including more than 6,300 DACA recipients, who have risked their lives in the essential medical, agricultural, and food service industries, and have laid the foundation for Florida to emerge stronger from this pandemic.
Congressman Soto and FWD.us Florida State Director Ted Hutchinson began yesterday’s conversation by highlighting the many ways that essential immigrant workers have benefited Florida and made the Sunshine place a better place to do business. Thanks to the contributions of undocumented essential workers, including many DACA recipients, Florida serves as a model of the economic and cultural benefits that stem from immigrant contributions.
Camilo Rozo, a DACA recipient and pharmacist, is one of the 6,300 DACA recipients serving in essential roles in Florida. Camilo was inspired to become a pharmacist by the prospect of serving the underserved Spanish speaking community in Kissimmee. Undocumented immigrants like Camilo have been critical to our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and, moving forward, will be key to our economic recovery. Camilo, alongside his fellow undocumented essential workers, deserves the protections, safety, and peace of mind afforded by a pathway to citizenship.
Now that the House has passed the bipartisan Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, it is past time for the Senate to follow suit and recognize the contributions of essential workers like Camilo by passing a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, undocumented farmworkers, and other undocumented immigrants. As Congressman Soto reminded us yesterday, it is up to Senators from both parties to work together and send both pieces of legislation to President Biden’s desk.
Participant quotes from yesterday’s roundtable are below:
“I am proud to have supported the Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which passed in the House last week on a bipartisan vote. Both bills are important steps toward reforming our broken immigration system, and ensuring that Dreamers, TPS holders and undocumented essential workers can stay together and safe with their families in the country they call home. Dreamers like Camilo are critical to the Sunshine State and I remain committed to fighting for policies that recognize them as the Americans they are.” – Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09)
“If the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have taught us anything, it’s that, as a nation, we rely on our undocumented friends and neighbors to keep our economy moving forward. The discussion is an important reminder of their impact and the need for a legislative solution that permanently protects them being separated from the lives they have built here in Florida. Nearly 80% of voters support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants because they understand immigrants’ vital role to our continued public health response and economic recovery from the pandemic. I urge the Senate to act on these bipartisan bills and bring certainty to the immigrant community. I applaud Congressman Soto for his work on behalf of Florida’s immigrants and look forward to partnering in the future to fix our broken immigration system.” – FWD.us Florida State Director Ted Hutchinson
“Thousands of Florida’s immigrants have been putting their health – and that of their families’ – at risk as essential workers. Unfortunately, many of their incredible contributions have been ignored. This conversation was an amazing opportunity to highlight some of these contributions and the need for immediate legislative action on the part of the Senate. I look forward to continuing this conversation and urge the Senate to follow the House’s example and provide Dreamers and essential farmworkers with a long-overdue pathway to citizenship.” – Victoria Mesa-Estrada, Senior Staff Attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center, Immigrant Justice Project
“As a DACA recipient and essential worker, I am proud of my work supporting the Kissimmee community as a pharmacist during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are thousands of other undocumented immigrants standing alongside me sacrificing as well. But without DACA, I couldn’t serve the underserved Spanish-speaking community in Kissimmee. This my home and I hope the Senate will pass a bipartisan solution that protects Dreamers by providing us with an earned pathway to citizenship. I thank Congressman Soto for voting in favor of the Dream and Promise Act recently, and encourage our senators to follow his lead to finally provide me and many others with much-needed certainty.” – Camilo Rozo, Pharmacist and DACA Recipient