Democratic lawmakers are calling for fast-tracking citizenship undocumented essential workers who are working on the frontlines of the pandemic.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) and Sen.-designate Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) announced their support for this kind of legislation. Castro went further and said that he is, in fact, working on the legislation that would immediately protect essential workers from deportation and fast track their path to citizenship.
“Essential workers, many of whom are undocumented immigrants, are unsung American heroes — risking their lives during this deadly pandemic to care for our communities and ensure food is on the table. I’m working on legislation to immediately protect essential workers and their families from deportation and provide them with a fast-track path to citizenship,” said Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro. “My bill will help our nation fully recover from COVID while honoring the significant sacrifices and contributions of immigrant essential workers.”
It is estimated that the proposed legislation would protect about 5 million workers out of total 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. The lawmakers wish to protect essential workers that cannot work from home during the pandemic. They work in meat packing plants, as cleaners of homes, hospitals, and offices, at farms, restaurants and grocery stores.
Undocumented immigrants are part of the group that has been hit the hardest by the pandemic. Most of them work at jobs that are designated “essential”. Also, undocumented immigrants cannot apply for unemployment and they are excluded from relief packages passed by Congress. According to CDC statistics Latino and Black people are more likely to be hospitalized and even die from coronavirus than white people.
Usually, the process of gaining legal status for undocumented workers can take years. It is expected that “fast-tracking” would mean that eligible immigrants would be able to receive green cards that would grant them permanent residency and protection from deportation and years later they would have a chance to apply for citizenship.
Padilla and Castro indicated that they have been in communication with the Biden-Harris administration and they have plans to talk with the House and Senate leaders soon. Part of Biden-Harris’ platform is a commitment to work with Congress to pass some kind of legislation that would create a path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants in the U.S.