US President Joe Biden has urged Congress to pass the comprehensive immigration reform, asserting that immigrants have done so much for America during the pandemic as they have throughout the country's history.
On the day one of his presidency, Biden sent a comprehensive immigration bill to Congress which proposes major overhauls to the system, including granting legal status and a path to citizenship to tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants and other groups and reduce the time that family members must wait outside the US for the much-sought green cards.
Immigrants have done so much for America during the pandemic as they have throughout our history. The country supports immigration reform. Congress should act, Biden said in his maiden address to a joint session of the US Congress on Wednesday.
Immigration has always been essential to America. Let's end our exhausting war over immigration. For more than 30 years, politicians have talked about immigration reform and done nothing about it. It's time to fix it, he said.
He said that on day one of his presidency, he kept his commitment and sent a comprehensive immigration bill to Congress.
"If you believe we need a secure border pass it. If you believe in a pathway to citizenship pass it. If you actually want to solve the problem I have sent you a bill, now pass it, he said amidst applause from the lawmakers.
We also have to get at the root of the problem of why people are fleeing to our southern border from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador. The violence. The corruption. The gangs. The political instability. Hunger. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. When I was Vice President, I focused on providing the help needed to address these root causes of migration, he said.
This, he said, helped keep people in their own countries instead of being forced to leave.
Our plan worked. But the last administration shut it down. I'm restoring the programme and asked Vice President (Kamala) Harris to lead our diplomatic efforts. I have absolute confidence she will get the job done. Now, if Congress won't pass my plan let's at least pass what we agree on, he said.
Biden said the Congress needs to pass legislation this year to finally secure protection for the Dreamers the young people who have only known America as their home.
And, permanent protections for immigrants on temporary protected status who come from countries beset by manmade and natural made violence and disaster.
As well as a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers who put food on our tables, he said.
New York immigrant rights advocates, led by the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), praised Biden's renewed commitment to a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status holders, and essential workers.
In a statement, the NYIC also double-downed on their call for a transformation of the country's immigration system, a promise of the Biden campaign.
FWD.us President Todd Schulte said that in his address Biden made clear the urgent need to provide millions of deserving immigrants with a desperately needed pathway to citizenship that will keep families across the country safe and together.
Millions of Dreamers, TPS (Temporary Protected Status) holders, farmworkers, and other undocumented immigrants have been vital to our nation's continued health response and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"They have deep roots in our communities as our neighbours, colleagues and friends, and nearly 6 million US citizen children live with an undocumented family member. Undocumented people are essential to our nation in every sense of the word, he said.
Earlier in the day, a coalition of immigration advocacy groups announced a new USD 50 million campaign aimed at pressuring lawmakers from both parties to pass a pathway to citizenship.
The effort includes a USD 30 million commitment from the We Are Home campaign led by advocacy organisations, as well as a USD 20 million commitment from a handful of other immigration groups including FWD.us.
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