Immigrants, Working People and Progressive Coalitions Turn Out on May Day with One Message: Citizenship Now!

Immigrants, Working People and Progressive Coalitions Turn Out on May Day with One Message: Citizenship Now!

Marchers demanding the Biden administration make progress on immigration reform, including Temporary Protected Status for Cameroonians living in the U.S. – Washington D.C. – May 1, 2021 (Shutterstock)

WASHINGTON – Immigrants, progressive allies and working people nationwide turned out to in-person and virtual events on May 1 to elevate the need for President Biden and Democrats to work together to include a pathway to citizenship for essential workers, undocumented youth, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and farmworkers in the proposed infrastructure package. Nationally, FIRM Action and We Are Home partners, including Faith in Action/LaRed, United Farm Workers (UFW), SEIU and others held more than 65 events, including marquee events in D.C., Chicago, Milwaukee, Seattle and Los Angeles.

The May Day events also mark the launch of a six figure digital and billboard campaign targeting Senators in New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, California, and Washington. The campaign will call on Democrats to act boldly, and on Republicans to not stand in the way of progress. Earlier this week, the We Are Home coalition announced a $50 million dollar campaign that will combine both grassroots and paid media to win the campaign for citizenship.

Lorella Praeli, president of community change action and one of We Are Home’s co-chairs said: “More than five million people who are undocumented are also essential workers. They’ve been at the front lines, helping to keep our country going during the pandemic, and yet the country treats them as expendable, at risk of deportation every day. Congress and the White House must act boldly and swiftly to deliver citizenship for our families.”

Teresa Romero, president of United Farm Workers and one of We Are Home’s co-chairs, said: “This International Workers Day and Immigrant Rights Day we are calling on Senators to honor the men and women that harvest food for all of us by passing the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021. Even while suffering high COVID-19 infection and death rates, farmworkers did not ask if the food they harvested was for red or blue states. Congress must use every ounce of power to deliver citizenship for farmworkers, “Dreamers” and TPS recipients. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act has been approved by the House, and now the Senate must act and get the bill to President Biden’s desk.”

Lawrence Benito, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), and one of FIRM Action’s co-chairs, said: “Our people—immigrants and progressive allies—got us to this point, where lawmakers must make the choice to either support a pathway to citizenship or turn their back on the promises they’ve made to our communities for decades. It’s simply not enough to make promises. It’s time to act and walk the talk. Immigrant essential workers have risked their lives to keep the country running through the pandemic. They need a pathway to citizenship now.”

Rocio Saenz, executive vice president, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said:  “On May Day we honor the sacrifices workers and immigrants have made in the fight for economic, racial, and immigrant justice. Too many of the individuals who would benefit from fair and humane immigration reform touch our lives across all sectors and positively impact all aspects of our economy. They’re the essential field workers who pick our food, the janitors who clean the buildings we work in, the doctors and nurses who take care of us when we’re sick, and the home care workers who help our aging loved ones or neighbors with disabilities who live at home with independence and dignity.  They, along with all immigrants, deserve to be treated with respect, protected from deportation, paid a living wage, and have the right to join a union.”

Bridgette Gomez, We Are Home’s campaign director said: “Our movement is powerful and resilient and is committed to fighting to transform the immigration system into one that is humane and fair. The 11 million undocumented people who call this country home deserve to live their lives with dignity. President Biden and Congress have an opportunity to act this year to move legislation that would ensure millions have the pathway to citizenship they’ve been promised for more than 30 years.”

Following May Day, FIRM Action and We Are Home will continue to escalate actions in Washington, D.C. and cities across the country to pressure President Biden and Democrats to act.

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