Undocumented migrants need basic benefits on their path to citizenship, proponents say

Border Report

SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Democratic lawmakers plan on introducing legislation that would provide benchmarks for undocumented migrants to reach citizenship over the course of seven years.

More than 500 organizations, led by a steering committee called Protect Immigrant Families Coalition, are asking legislators to also provide more services and benefits to immigrants as they embark on a path toward citizenship.

“In addition to undermining testing and treatment, exclusionary policies now undermine COVID-19 vaccination efforts, prolonging the health and economic threat facing us all,” the committee wrote. “As you consider landmark legislation creating a path to citizenship for millions in immigrant families, we urge you to ensure that they are not denied life’s essentials while they walk that road.”

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, and U.S. Rep. Linda Sánchez, D-California, plan on introducing the legislation on Tuesday.

Initially, migrants who have paid taxes and have no criminal records will receive protective status, followed by a green card a few years later and ultimately, in seven years, U.S. citizenship.

Cynthia Buiza is the Executive Director of the California Immigrant Policy Center.

“We applaud President Biden, Senator Menendez, and Congresswoman Sánchez for charting a new, better course,” said Cynthia Buiza, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center. “Establishing a pathway to citizenship not only recognizes the critical role immigrants have played in pandemic response, but it also begins to heal the wounds of division and racial exclusion.”

Buiza is also a proponent of giving migrants basic services such as health care and access to things such as COVID-19 vaccinations.

“While we are waiting for permanent solutions, we can make life more bearable for immigrants, making sure they are included,” she said. “Access to a broader safety net, which means access to food, housing, the basics — California has been good at this, what’s happening in California is what we would like to see nationwide in other states.”

Buiza believes Biden will succeed where previous administrations have failed.

“Bush couldn’t do it, Obama couldn’t do it … he has a chance with Congress and the Senate being Democrat,” Buiza said.

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan issued an executive order to legalize minor children of undocumented parents who were granted amnesty as immigration reform shaped up for millions of migrants in the United States.

It’s the last time the federal government created “a pathway to citizenship.” The Immigration Reform and Control Act, or IRCA, granted amnesty to millions of people.

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