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Grassroots Action Center

Tell Congress to Support A Pathway to Citizenship

In January 2021, the Biden Administration introduced the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, to overhaul the immigration system to address approximately 11 million people living in the United States without immigration status. The bill focused on certain principles — urging Congress to offer a pathway to citizenship for those who have long-lived and worked in the United States without benefits and security; to ensure families were not separated, and to renew a commitment to community values. 

The bill has not gained sufficient support. However, it has started the conversation about how to address this gaping problem.  In June, the Senate Committee on the Budget released a draft reconciliation budget that includes a pathway to citizenship for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, Dreamers and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and essential workers. This opportunity is imperative as it would include a pathway to citizenship for approximately 5 million undocumented persons. Two separate bills, the American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, that outlined access to a pathway to citizenship for particular groups such as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and agricultural workers who risked their lives to provide essential labor during the pandemic. However, the Senate has yet to pass these bills. It is time for the Senate to act!

Tell your Senator to include a pathway to citizenship in the budget reconciliation!

Immigrant rights organizations are urging Congressional action.  On June 16, 2021, Texas Federal Judge Andrew Hanen ruled that DACA was inconsistent with the law. Judge Hanen vacated the memo that created the DACA program. The final decision stated that those who already have DACA would keep their protections, but no new applications could be accepted. This decision affects over 80,000 new applicants. Although the Biden Administration has vowed to appeal the decision, the future of DACA remains in the hands of the courts. This is another example of why Congress urgently must act to assist communities at risk of detention and deportation.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has advocated for a pathway to citizenship for many years. At the General Assembly in 2012, the assembly passed “On Advocating for comprehensive Immigration Reform,” which urged church members along with other community members to advocate for immigration reform that included “making family unity a priority” and “providing a reasonable and inclusive path for undocumented migrants presently living in the United States to eventually gain citizenship without imposing punitive costs, wait times, or other irksome conditions.” We much act now and urge the Senate to include a pathway to citizenship in the budget reconciliation.

Undocumented individuals are members of our family; our faith leaders, congregation members, and our community leaders. Reach out to your Senator encouraging them to support an option that reflects a part of God’s justice. As people of faith, we will continue to seek a just pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented persons; however, the opportunity for 5 million to gain access to citizenship is a significant step.

Tell your Senator to include a pathway to citizenship in the budget reconciliation!

 

 Additional resources to learn more about the pathway to citizenship:

  1. Faith in Action - #WeAre Essential Campaign - https://faithinaction.org/news/faith-leaders-and-immigration-advocates-fast-in-support-of-a-pathway-to-citizenship-for-essential-workers/. Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PCUSA writes a letter to support those participating in the fast. Article about the Fast for Freedom.
  2. Interfaith Immigration Coalition toolkit and webinar on citizenship. Letter to elected officials from faith leaders and organizations in which the PCUSA and various church leaders signed. 
  3. Report from Center for Migration Studies, “Making Citizenship an Organizing Principle of the US Immigration System” for greater understanding of the obstacles and possible solutions. 
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