Hundreds of immigrant mothers march in D.C., bringing calls for citizenship bill to Biden
Over 40 demonstrators were arrested in a peaceful march where Immigrant mothers demanded a pathway to citizenship.
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Hundreds of immigrant mothers who played critical roles during the harshest months of the COVID-19 pandemic are now bringing their demands for a comprehensive path to citizenship to Washington D.C. in a march on May 12.
Over the course of the pandemic in the U.S., 5.2 million undocumented immigrants have worked in “essential” jobs. They faced higher rates of exposure to the virus, and now immigrant essential workers are known to be more likely to contract it.
Of these, 1 million are considered Dreamers under the American Dream and Promise Act, and have protections if they’ve filed for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
But the remaining 4 million don’t have protection from deportation, meaning one day they can be considered the heroes of the pandemic in the workforce, and the next, they could face deportation.
This is why just days after the nation celebrated Mother’s Day, the same immigrant mothers who were celebrated are now marching on the Capitol to bring their citizenship concerns to President Joe Biden.
Hundreds of immigrant mothers, community members, activists, and allies along with participating organizations and labor rights groups, marched from the Republican National Committee to the Senate offices to hold a ‘People’s Hearing’ on essential workers. Participants blocked traffic in front of the Senate building, holding banners, posters, and images that read “Don’t break my mother’s heart,” and shirts reading “My Mom is essential.”
During the march, Capitol police issued several warnings to demonstrators for blocking the intersection, citing “civil disobedience.” Dozens of police surrounded demonstrators that sat in the middle of the intersection.
Immigrants rights group CASA later tweeted: “WE ARE STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET, TAKING UP SPACE AND ADVOCATING FOR IMMIGRANTS,” and later wrote: “ImmigrantMoms have stood by us during the pandemic and we will stand by them no matter what!”
In the end, Capitol police removed demonstrators who were blocking traffic by ordering them to move, pulling some to their feet. Over 40 demonstrators were arrested in the process.
The march falls on the same day the Senate Judiciary Committee is hearing the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, introduced by Alex Padilla (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in the Senate, and Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and Ted Lieu (D-CA) in the House.
The bill provides a pathway to citizenship for undocumented essential workers by giving them Legal Permanent Residence, commonly known as Green Cards. It would allow undocumented essential workers who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and undocumented family members of an essential worker who died of the virus to also apply for green cards.
The legislation would apply to undocumented immigrants working in a range of work sectors, including healthcare, construction, food, hospitality, home care, agriculture, child care, and more, including any other work labeled “essential” by the Department of Homeland Security, state, or local governments.
The march comes in the wake of Biden’s first 100 days, wherein he failed to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the country, especially those who risked their lives during the pandemic. On the path to his election, Biden largely campaigned on a progressive platform, including immigration reform.
Legislation was introduced earlier this year, but the divided Congress has stunted passing the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, and including TPS and DACA holders in COVID recovery bills. Now, advocates are calling on Biden to include immigrant essential workers in his American Families Plan.
“Immigrant mothers worked both in their homes and in their communities. They helped their children navigate virtual school at home while also working as nurses, child care providers, and grocery store workers in their communities. Immigrant mothers and families did so much to help the country through this pandemic at such a high risk to themselves and their own families. They are essential, and they deserve a pathway to citizenship” CASA wrote in a press release.