Undocumented immigrants working as essential workers, including those in long-term care facilities and those working in home and community services, would be eligible for a pathway to citizenship under new legislation proposed in the House and in the Senate.
The bicameral proposal, the Citizenship Act for Essential Workers, S. 747 and HR 1909, proposes that such workers be granted permanent resident status. The new legislation aims to provide a “fair, safe, and accessible” path to U.S. citizenship for more than 5 million immigrant essential workers. Of the 5 million, about 1 million would be defined as “dreamers” who hold deferred action status for childbirth. The other 4 million undocumented essential workers largely lack any deportation protections, meaning a worker could be considered essential today but could be deported tomorrow, according to a LeadingAge article published on Monday.
Twenty-two Democrats, led by Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), sent a letter to President Joseph Biden last month urging him to prioritize including this legislation in his infrastructure package. Many of these lawmakers fear losing control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections and worry that the Supreme Court will strike down former President Barack Obama’s protections for Dreamers.
“Essential workers are American heroes – and they have earned American citizenship. For more than a year, we have all seen that America’s critical infrastructure would crumble without millions of hard-working immigrants,” Castro said. “In fact, the US Department of Homeland Security considered essential workers to be part of our nation’s critical infrastructure. Citizenship for essential workers should be part of President Biden’s jobs and infrastructure legislation initiative.