Sen. Alex Padilla’s first bill would provide citizenship to essential workers

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KRON) — In his first bill as senator, Alexa Padilla announced a pathway to citizenship for essential workers.

The “Citizenship for Essential Workers Act” would create an expedited pathway to citizenship for the more than 5 million essential workers without permanent legal status — which includes many who helped keep Americans healthy, fed and safe during the pandemic.

The bill would provide undocumented essential workers with a fast, accessible and secure path to citizenship, beginning with an immediate change of status to legal permanent resident.

It was introduced Friday by Padilla (D-CA), Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA-33).

Padilla, who announced he will serve as the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Citizenship and Border Safety Subcommittee, actively advocates for immigrants.

His parents, who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, both worked jobs that would be deemed essential work today during the COVID-19 crisis.

“My parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico. My father worked as a short-order cook and my mom used to clean houses, jobs that would be considered essential today. Dignity, respect, and citizenship for essential workers is personal for me and in the best interest of our country,” Padilla said. I’m proud to lead my colleagues with Representative Castro to give undocumented essential workers the protections they have earned.”

Padilla said these essential workers have earned a pathway to citizenship after risking their health and their lives to keep our communities safe and economy moving.

Castro says the U.S. owes these essential workers a “debt of gratitude”.

“From farmworkers in the fields to nurses in the ICU, immigrant essential workers have risked their lives, and their families lives, every day during this pandemic. Our nation owes them a debt of gratitude and they have earned a path to citizenship”, said Congressman Castro. “We must not allow the workers who are called essential today to be deported tomorrow. Undocumented essential workers deserve to stay here in their home and to be recognized as the heroes – and Americans – they are.” 

A bill fact sheet is available here.

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