After the Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) group spent the latter half of 2021 demanding Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer provide a pathway to citizenship in the Build Back Better bill for thousands of immigrant New Yorkers—which included staging a sleep-in outside the politician’s home—Schumer joined the group Thursday to advocate on their behalf.
Despite the Build Back Better Act failing to pass in the Senate and include protections for immigrants—due to West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin’s lack of support—Schumer is continuing the fight whether as part of a new Build Back Better package or another legislative bill. The individuals who would benefit from protections would include children who’ve arrived in the country, essential workers, those who are from a Temporary Protected Status, and others who are undocumented.
Senator Schumer joined NICE representatives virtually via laptop and fellow elected officials in Times Square on Jan. 13, where the group advocated immigration reform. Schumer put pressure on Congress to ensure immigrants have a path to citizenship, which would provide a process for undocumented individuals to become legal citizens.
“The majority of Americans support our efforts to provide a path to citizenship for millions of hardworking immigrants in this country. They know this will raise wages, create good-paying jobs, enrich our economy, and improve the lives of all Americans. Despite recent procedural barriers, we will not stop in our push to fix our broken immigration system and provide a path to citizenship. The Senate will soon bring to a vote the Build Back Better bill, and I’m ready to work with my colleagues to disregard any parliamentarian opinion that would stand in the way of getting this done,” Schumer told the gathered crowd.
Surrounded by the glow of Times Square and clinging to banners, the group chanted and raised their fists to the air. For these advocates, they have been waiting far too long for action already.
“The fate of the immigrant workforce we celebrated as essential during the pandemic cannot be left in the hands of an unelected parliamentarian. I urge President Biden and the Senate to remember the workers and pass Build Back Better with a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people. If they are essential, they cannot be excluded,” State Senator Jessica Ramos said.
These efforts come after immigrant communities were some of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with food and housing insecurity, as well as financial instability. While others received stimulus checks and aid, immigrants were left on the back burner as they fought for money in the excluded worker’s fund. Those at the rally stated that pandemic showcased how essential immigrant workers are to the country and instead of being praised they continue to face barriers.