National Immigration Law Center Responds to Introduction of U.S. Citizenship Act

February 18, 2021

Juan Gastelum, [email protected], 213-375-3149

National Immigration Law Center Responds to Introduction of U.S. Citizenship Act

WASHINGTON — Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) today introduced the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 in the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively. The bill, which President Joe Biden sent to Congress on his first day in office, would provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship to an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., including a fast track for agricultural workers and for people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), temporary protected status (TPS), or deferred enforced departure (DED).

Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“The U.S. Citizenship Act would provide a path to citizenship to approximately 11 million undocumented people whose home is here and who are essential members of our communities, and begin to address root causes of immigration. It would also strengthen protections for all workers, remove barriers to family-based immigration, place limits on dangerously overbroad executive authority to issue bans on people entering the U.S., restore asylum and other humanitarian forms of relief, and replace the term “alien” with “noncitizen” in our immigration law.

“We at the National Immigration Law Center welcome this shift in approach, which breaks with decades of immigration reform proposals that tethered long-overdue relief to punitive measures that are harmful to our communities as a whole. This bill marks a significant step as we continue working to reclaim our nation’s role as a beacon of hope for people around the world seeking a better life. We thank Senator Menendez, Representative Sanchez, and the Biden White House for their leadership in swiftly bringing this historic bill forward.

“Millions of immigrants are doing essential work to help us get through the pandemic and are in urgent need of stability and relief. We urge members of Congress to move swiftly to provide undocumented members of our communities with a pathway to citizenship, including a fast-track for those eligible for DACA, TPS, or DED, and for essential workers and farmworkers.

“While there is much to celebrate in this bill, we are concerned with the potential that increased use of technology at the border will lead to more surveillance and harmful enforcement. We are also disappointed that at a time when the pandemic has shown us how interdependent we all are, Democrats are still excluding immigrants from access to health care and other vital services while on their path to citizenship. The vision articulated by President Biden for an immigration system that lives up to our country’s needs and values in the 21st century — one that advances racial and economic equity and justice — requires that Congress work to enact a fully inclusive bill that provides everyone in our communities with the freedom to thrive. Our collective health and well-being depends on full immigrant inclusion.”