For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 22, 2021
VACIR Praises Gov. Northam’s Call for the White House to include Immigrant Essential Workers in Reconciliation Package
Virginia — On Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam sent a letter to the White House in support of the inclusion of immigrant essential workers, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders in the second economic recovery bill. Governor Northam is the first governor to come out in support of immigration reform through a reconciliation package.
“The best thank you to our immigrant essential workers is a pathway to citizenship for all the work they have done on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Monica Sarmiento, Executive Director of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights. “Families deserve to stay together.”
Over 5 million undocumented immigrant workers are working on the frontlines over the last year. Many are working in areas like health care, agriculture, housing, food services, transportation.
“I help my mother who’s suffering from multiple illnesses because she could die without her daily medicines,” said Ana Olivares, an SEIU 32BJ essential janitor in Northern Virginia and TPS holder who has been in the U.S. for 20 years. “My partner even started a little company, creating more jobs, paying taxes, and contributing to this economy. I want Congress to recognize the contribution working immigrants make to this great nation, we deserve citizenship.”
Despite being essential, undocumented workers who have contributed to our communities have been left out of the previous relief packages, therefore, leaving them ineligible for resources like federal stimulus payments, access to health care, or unemployment insurance.
“This would help me give peace if I were to lose my job,” said Luis Andrade, Construction Worker and member of Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO). “We are people who live here and have homes here. I have had TPS for 20 years and it finishes in a few months. As we continue to work as essential workers during COVID-19 and now is time for Congress to do something for us.”
According to the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, providing a pathway to citizenship would boost the economy and tax revenue. Benefits would include increased wages, job creation, and even strengthened workplace protections, for both immigrants and native-born workers.
“New Virginia Majority supports Governor Northam in urging Senator Warner and President Biden to include a pathway to citizenship for essential workers as part of the American Recovery Act,” said Jon Liss, Co-Executive Director of New Virginia Majority. “We’ve all learned over this last year both the health vulnerability and the critical contributions of 140,000 Virginians undocumented immigrants who work in essential industries such as construction, care work, agriculture, food supply chain in addition to Temporary Protected Status workers and Dreamers. This pandemic has made abundantly clear that we are deeply interconnected and can only build it back better if our most vulnerable and essential are included.”
Recently, Biden spoke to Congressional Hispanic Caucus members regarding immigration reform through reconciliation.
Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR) is a multi-racial and multi-ethnic coalition of organizations that exists to win dignity, power, and quality of life for all immigrant and refugee communities.