Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi denied House Democrats’ requests to include amnesty for illegal immigrants who served as essential workers during the pandemic in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.
“President Biden proposed comprehensive immigration reform, which includes protections for frontline immigrant workers, separate from his Covid relief plan, and we expect that to therefore have separate consideration,” a House Democratic leadership aide told Politico.
Pelosi’s brisk response follows a letter from 100 Democratic representatives urging the speaker and other House leaders to consider slipping in a faster path to citizenship for the more than 5 million Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status recipients, and undocumented immigrants who “have helped keep Americans healthy and safe during the pandemic and are critical for our economic recovery.”
“As we continue to confront a public health and economic catastrophe that will soon have claimed the lives of more than 450,000 Americans [and] exacerbated deep racial, gender, and economic inequities, it is vital that we include protections for immigrant workers to secure the health of our nation and lay the foundation for a robust and dynamic economic recovery,” the letter from the Hispanic Caucus read.
Just a month before the Hispanic Caucus’s letter, hundreds of progressive immigration organizations issued a similar plea to Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, asking the congressional leaders to “offer permanent protection and a path to citizenship to all undocumented essential workers and delivering this provision to the president’s desk for his signature.”
“Last year, House Democrats recognized the important contributions and sacrifices of undocumented essential workers by including in both versions of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act a provision offering temporary protection from deportation and work authorization to these individuals. The 117th Congress can and must do better,” the letter stated.
Pelosi’s reluctance to include a path to citizenship for illegal immigrant essential workers, though, is not to be confused with a lack of eagerness to pass sweeping immigration reform. Since day one, the Biden administration, in conjunction with top congressional Democrats, has promised to reverse the Trump administration’s actions and make it easier for undocumented migrants to take advantage of benefits reserved for U.S. citizens.
In addition to the new president’s six executive orders concerning Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the addition of illegal immigrants in U.S. Census totals, immediate cessation of construction on the southern border wall, and the suggestion to replace the word “alien” with “noncitizen” in U.S. immigration laws, members in the blue chambers of Congress have begun to workshop legislation focused on carrying out Biden’s goal to offer amnesty to approximately 11 million illegal immigrants.