Dozens of lawmakers at the state and New York City level on Wednesday will release a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urging him to back a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the proposed multi-trillion dollar domestic spending package.
The fate of the measure — which would fund child care, efforts to combat climate change, an expansion of benefits under the Medicaid program and community college — remains up in the air amid a fight over the size and scope of the package along with a separate but linked proposal for infrastructure spending.
Democrats in Congress are pursuing the domestic agenda plan through a process known as reconciliation in order to have a simple majority approve it in the U.S. Senate. But with that process comes limits to what can be included in the bill, and a Senate parliamentarian has ruled against allowing language to allow as many as 8 million people living in the U.S. a pathway to citizenship.
Advocates and state elected offciaisl have pointed to the contributions of undocumented New Yorkers during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, performing what had become dangerous jobs as many people remained homebound.
“Advocates have been fighting for a pathway to citizenship for decades and for decades we have been told that it is not the time yet," said Assemblywoman Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas. "We are now demanding action. Undocumented residents of our state have paid taxes for years contributing to our local economy and our federal budget. During the coronavirus pandemic it has been our undocumented neighbors who have delivered food, cleaned our transportation systems, and saved lives on the frontline of this global crisis that has claimed so many lives in our communities.”
All told, 19 members of the state Senate, 46 lawmakers in the Assembly and 11 members of the New York City Council signed onto the letter.
The letter comes as the fate of much of President Joe Biden's domestic spending agenda remains up in the air with the negotiations over the infrastructure plan as well as the reconciliation measure.
Advocates for undocumented immigrants in New York and across the country in recent days have decried the ruling by the Senate parliamentarian for not including the citizenship provision in the measure.
“These state and city lawmakers know what we know — the parliamentarian’s faulty opinion is just an opinion, and Senate Majority Leader Schumer has the power to deliver citizenship this year regardless of what she says,” said Yaritza Mendez, the co-Director of Organizing at Make the Road New York. “We applaud these legislators and councilmembers for standing with us, and urge the Senator and his conference to move ahead and ensure a path to citizenship is part of the reconciliation package.”