Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Grace Meng introduced on Oct. 25 the 9/11 Immigrant Worker Freedom Act, which would provide citizenship for the nearly 2,000 immigrants who assisted with cleanup efforts at Ground Zero.
Meng, representing the Sixth Congressional District in Queens, called on Congress to act and create a path to citizenship for the many brave immigrants who put their lives on the line after the Sept. 11 attacks.
“They deserve a fast track to legal status for the sacrifices they made for our nation,” Meng said. “Twenty years after 9/11, it’s finally time to make that happen. We cannot turn our backs on those who are struggling with health problems after they put themselves in harm’s way for our country.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the 14th Congressional District in the Bronx and Queens, agreed and said no one has more earned the right to call themselves an American than the undocumented workers who helped in the search and rescue.
“Many of these immigrants still lack permanent residency, even as they struggle with the health impact of asbestos exposure and other related trauma and injury,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “The solution is simple and entirely in the hands of Congress. We must act.”
Undocumented immigrants were largely unable to seek professional medical attention due to fear of being deported and still suffer today. According to AP News, it is unclear whether this bill will pass.
Former U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley and Ocasio-Cortez’s predecessor introduced a similar bill in 2017. However, the new bill by Ocasio-Cortez and Meng recently introduced is different from Crowley’s in that it doesn’t require individuals who have had paid their taxes to apply and includes eligibility to people in the middle of deportation proceedings.
The sponsors, including Rep. Adriano Espaillat from New York’s 13th District, estimated 2,000 individuals could be eligible for citizenship if this legislation passed.