Dozens of immigrants rallied with elected officials at Corona Plaza Friday and marched through the neighborhood, calling on Congress and President Joe Biden’s administration to include a path to citizenship for undocumented essential workers as part of its infrastructure plan.
Over the past year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, immigrant essential workers risked their lives and kept the country’s economy operating by providing vital support on the front lines as health workers, caregivers, educators and delivery workers.
“For 20 years, I have lived in this country that I now consider my home,” said Jackson Heights resident Mario Chavez, a Make the Road New York member. “I have been an essential worker, and just like me, there are millions of undocumented workers across the country. Essential workers have been risking their lives working before and during the pandemic to keep our communities and the economy going. Today, we demand President Biden and Congress to recognize the contribution and values of immigrants and deliver on his promises. Immigrants are a vital part of this country and President Biden must include a pathway to citizenship in his infrastructure plan.”
Last month, the Biden administration presented the first part of his plan and will be presenting the second part in the coming weeks. Protesters urged the administration to include the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act as part of the infrastructure plan.
“Thirteen months ago, when COVID-19 upended our entire way of life, many undocumented Americans were not afforded the luxury of basic safety,” state Senator Jessica Ramos said. “Denied access to unemployment benefits or pandemic relief, millions of undocumented Americans toiled day after day, many without PPE, to try to take care of their families and one another. It is time we take care of them. These individuals epitomize the ideals of what it is supposed to mean to be an American: to work hard, to overcome adversity, to sacrifice and create a way forward for your family. It is incumbent upon the Biden administration to recognize these individuals for their heroism by creating a pathway to citizenship.”
This push comes as immigrants nationwide have also called for Biden and Congress to provide a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented people across the country.
“It is estimated that there are half-a-million undocumented immigrants residing in New York. We know that just as these neighbors have done before, they have carried a lot of the burden of ensuring that our state and our country remain afloat during the coronavirus pandemic,” Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas said. “Immigrants in the United States have taken care of us even as they confront the daily threat of a violent and broken immigration system that separates them from their families and their communities. These essential workers deserve to be given a real pathway to citizenship in the upcoming infrastructure package considered by Congress, so they can finally and freely call this country home.”
Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, who was born in Colombia before coming to the U.S. at age 9, leads the Task Force for New Americans.
“Undocumented immigrants living in this country are the backbone of our society but they have been forced to live in the shadows for decades due to fear of deportation,” Cruz said. “A clear path to citizenship is far beyond their reach, as our archaic immigration system has left them with no alternative. I call upon Congress and the president to enact swift legislation that provides a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people living without status who call this country home.”