April 13, 2021

Warren, Castro, Padilla, Lieu: Citizenship for Essential Workers is Infrastructure

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. — Today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), and Congressman Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) led a bicameral letter to President Biden urging the inclusion of the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act in the President’s upcoming infrastructure package. This legislation provides a fair, secure, and accessible pathway to U.S. citizenship for over 5 million immigrant essential workers in health care, agriculture, construction, food, energy, emergency response, care-giving, and other essential critical infrastructure sectors. 

"Essential workers risk their lives every day to keep our country running -- but about 5 million of those workers live in fear of deportation,” said Senator Warren. “The Citizenship for Essential Workers Act would correct this injustice by providing a fair pathway to citizenship for essential workers and it should be included in the infrastructure package or the Americans Families Plan.”

“Essential workers are American heroes — and they have earned American citizenship,” said Congressman Castro. “For over a year, we’ve all seen that America’s critical infrastructure would collapse without millions of hardworking immigrants. In fact, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security deemed essential workers as part of our nation’s critical infrastructure. Citizenship for essential workers should be part of President Biden’s legislative initiative on jobs and infrastructure. As we seek to build back better, it is crucial that our economy and society be rebuilt on a fairer foundation that fully includes immigrant essential workers.” 

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, more than five million essential workers without permanent legal status have been critical to keeping our country running and saving American lives,” said Senator Padilla. “COVID relief means not only addressing the health impacts of this pandemic, but also rebuilding our economy. Providing a pathway to citizenship that these essential workers have earned, through their service and sacrifice, will help boost our economic recovery and will benefit communities across the country. It is vital that the next infrastructure package include a pathway to citizenship for essential workers in order to build back better and more equitably.”

“I join my colleagues to urge President Biden to include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented essential workers in the next infrastructure package,” said Congressman Lieu. “There is no equitable way out of this pandemic without a pathway to citizenship for immigrant essential workers. Over 5 million immigrant workers in our communities are on the frontlines keeping us healthy and fed during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s time we do right by them and provide a pathway to citizenship.”

In addition to the House and Senate sponsors of the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, signatories of the letter include: Senators Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Representatives Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Nikema Williams (D-Ga.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), Teresa Leger Fernández (D-Nev.), and Darren Soto (D-Fla.). 

The introduction of this bill is part of Senator Warren's ongoing efforts to protect the rights and wellbeing of migrants and asylum seekers.

  • In March 2021, Senator Warren, Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), and Senator Booker reintroduced the bicameral COVID-19 in Immigration Detention Data Transparency Act,legislation that would require COVID-19 data collection in immigration detention facilities,fill information gaps, and provide public health experts, policymakers, immigration advocates, and the public with critical information about COVID-19 in immigration detention facilities.

  • In February, Senator Warren joined Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Congresswoman Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) in introducing the bicameral U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, President Biden's bold, inclusive, and humane framework for the future of the United States immigration system.

  • In February 2021, Senators Warren and Booker led their colleagues to question ICE and DHS on disturbing new allegations of abuse and forced deportations of migrants and asylum-seekers.

  • In November 2020, Senator Warren joined Senator Merkley in sending a letter demanding that the Trump administration halt any and all plans to deport dozens of women who have come forward to report unnecessary and forced medical procedures while detained at Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Ocilla, Georgia. 

  • In November 2020, Senators Warren and Markey led the Massachusetts congressional delegation in calling for all deportations to be halted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • In September 2020, the Senator joined her colleagues in calling for a congressional hearings into a whistleblower report of medical negligence at ICDC.

  • In May 2020, Senator Warren joined a letter to the DHS OIG requesting an investigation into the conditions that led to the death of the first individual in immigration detention from COVID-19 at Otay Mesa, an ICE facility in California.

  • In April 2020, Senator Warren cosponsored Senator Booker's Federal Immigrant Release for Safety and Security Together (FIRST) Act, legislation that would provide for the release of vulnerable, low-risk detained persons from immigration detention facilities during the pandemic.

  • In April 2020, Senator Warren joined Former Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) in a letter to the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) requesting they open an investigation into the conditions at ICE detention facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • In March 2020, Senator Warren and Representative Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to CBP, calling on it to strengthen its new Medical Directive, which mandates the agency's requirements for medical screening and delivery of medical care to migrants in CBP custody.

  • In September 2019, Senator Warren joined Senator Merkley, Markey and colleagues urged  the Trump administration to revise the proposed ceiling of refugees and keep America's longstanding commitment to vulnerable people around the world.