Essential immigrant workers make themselves heard ahead of new immigration legislation
Rallies were held in Washington D.C. and New Jersey among other parts of the country as Senator Bob Menendez prepares to introduce a potential landmark bill.
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On Wednesday, February 17, many immigrants are making their voices heard through rallies in D.C., calling for inclusion in Congress’ COVID relief package, and a clear pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented individuals in the country.
In the capital, immigrant essential workers held a rally to remind Congress members of the immeasurable impact they have delivered for the country.
The theme of the demonstration was food and sustenance, showing how immigrant workers have been growing, packaging, delivering, preparing and selling food throughout the pandemic.
“It is time for Congress to do what’s right for #EssentialWorkers! Pass immigration reform and #COVID relief that includes #allofus.” — @UFCW400in front of the Capitol, speaks to members of Congress directly. #Wearehome #ImmigrantsAreEssential pic.twitter.com/rXjh27Kbxq— CASA (@CASAforall) February 17, 2021
The group was made up of agriculture, restaurant, grocery store workers and election canvassers from Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.
Participants gathered at 12 p.m. for the scheduled speaking events.
Starting at the National Mall between 3rd and 4th street, near the reflection pool, they chanted and marched, and carried their banners and signs that read “immigrants are essential.”
In addition to the signs, more visuals were being displayed, including large photos of essential workers and a “tablecloth on the ground with examples of the food that immigrants have delivered to the country, like produce, pizza boxes, Amazon bags and more.”
Rally organizers chose the day very intentionally, as Senator Bob Menendez is rumored to be introducing new immigration legislation the next day on Thursday, Feb. 18, that would include a pathway to citizenship.
Meanwhile, in Hackensack, New Jersey, a similar rally was held around 10 a.m outside the office of Rep Josh Gottheimer.
AT 10AM: join immigrant essential workers, families & allies as they call on @RepJoshG to support a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million immigrants living in this country w/o status and urging the inclusion of immigrant workers in COVID relief. #AllofUs pic.twitter.com/qNDUrVlMRy— Make the Road New Jersey (@MaketheRoadNJ) February 17, 2021
Make the Road is an organization that focuses on mobilizing in support of Latinx immigrant communities, and Wind of Spirit is a faith-based organization that works with immigrant communities to ensure their access to information that will strengthen their leadership abilities in social and political spheres.
The event streamed live on Make the Road NJ’s Facebook page.
“This congressional recess, join immigrant essential workers, families and allies to call on Congressman Josh Gottheimer to support a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million immigrants living in this country without status and to urge inclusion of immigrant workers in COVID relief,” the event page read.
5M essential workers risking their lives to keep our families healthy & fed during this pandemic are undocumented. Join our friends from @MaketheRoadNJ to demand essential workers receive the protections they need to survive this moment and beyond. #FreedomTogether https://t.co/ldycV9LF20— FIRM Action (@FIRM_Action) February 17, 2021
For those that couldn’t attend, the grassroots organization, Indivisible NJ-05, provided a link on their Twitter page allowing for people to call or email their representative, urging them to provide a pathway to citizenship and an end to deportations.
Their demands were simple: citizenship, relief from deportations, and an inclusive economic recovery package. Participants are also urging the Biden administration to put an end to the cruel immigration enforcement, end immigration detention and investigate DHS and ICE.
Make the Road New Jersey has created a petition calling on the Biden administration to protect this valuable yet vulnerable community.
“Congress must pass a bold recovery plan that includes immigrants and excluded workers and provides a pathway to citizenship for #AllofUs,” the petition reads.