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NY Immigrants, Allies Push for Federal Investments in Citizenship

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Wednesday, September 22, 2021   

BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Thousands of U.S. immigrants and their allies rallied Tuesday in Washington, D.C., to demand that Congress include a pathway to citizenship in the $3.5 trillion "Build Back Better" plan. The Senate parliamentarian advised against including immigration reform in the budget reconciliation bill - a decision that affects millions of immigrants, in New York and across the country.

Make the Road New York was among the many groups at the rally. Its media specialist, Yatziri Tovar, said a path to citizenship is essential to help communities recover - not only from COVID, but major weather events such as Hurricane Ida.

"Unfortunately, many of our community members - throughout Queens, throughout Brooklyn - were affected by the hurricane," she said, "and many of them do not qualify to be able to access any type of relief or aid, because of their immigration status."

Tovar said New Yorkers who were not eligible for, and did not receive, unemployment benefits or COVID-19 income relief could apply for the state's new Excluded Workers Fund. It's expected that congressional Democrats will announce another plan to address the citizenship issue in the near future.

Representatives from the labor union 32-BJ SEIU also rallied on Tuesday. Along with including a path to citizenship, said union vice president Jaime Contreras, his group is optimistic that the Build Back Better plan could bolster communities through funding for climate infrastructure and the home-care sector.

"Investing in home-care workers who remain in the front lines of the pandemic is critical to jump-starting our economy," he said, "and making sure that men and women of color are not left behind in those discussions."

According to a poll earlier this year, 65% of Americans think undocumented immigrants in the United States should be allowed to stay - and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship. This also would benefit Dreamers, the young people brought to the United States as kids - plus farmworkers, and those with Temporary Protected Status.

Disclosure: 32BJ SEIU contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Immigrant Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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