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Thousands Rally in Washington for “Here to Work” Day of Action, Urging President Biden to Expand Work Permits for All Long-Term Immigrants
WASHINGTON, November 14, 2023 – Today, thousands rallied in Washington, D.C. in a push urging President Biden to expand work permits for long-term immigrants who have been long-time members of our communities, raised families, worked and paid their fair share of taxes for years or even decades.
The group of advocates, business leaders, members of Congress and directly impacted people called on the President to take immediate action to expand parole, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to mitigate the impact of unjust laws that forcibly separate United States citizens from their spouses, parents and children.
Rebecca Shi, executive director of ABIC Action, said “Immigrant workers are essential to the U.S. economy. We urge President Biden to immediately provide work permits to long-term immigrant contributors to strengthen America’s economy and reduce the cost of food and housing for all Americans. The time to act is now!”
The rally in Washington took place after an upswell of support and events across the country, including Denver, El Paso, Salt Lake City, Tampa, and Lansing, among others. As described in a Los Angeles Times column, Biden could “outmaneuver the xenophobic wing of the Republican Party” and take action that favors communities and the economy alike.
“Average Americans are unaware that so many spouses of U.S. citizens are denied the right to legalize their status. These archaic laws forcibly tear apart American families while robbing the U.S. economy of the estimated $16 billion that our spouses could add and an additional $5 billion in taxes per year,” said Ashley DeAzevedo, president of American Families United, a Pennsylvania advocacy group for legal immigrants. Our hard-working families deserve a chance to be included in our nation’s promise to provide ‘liberty and justice for all.’”
“President Biden has all the administrative tools he needs to catapult our nation out of its existing labor crisis while simultaneously providing immediate relief to long-term immigrant contributors and mixed-status families who are at risk of separation,” stated Alex Sánchez, president and CEO of Voces Unidas Action Fund. “Colorado Latinos will reward leaders who take action on an issue so important and so personal to so many of us. 80 percent of the Colorado Latinos we polled in 2023 said the federal government should do more for the long-term undocumented immigrants. The President should act as soon as possible.”
President Biden has the authority to expand work permits for long-term immigrants, which would alleviate the pressing workforce and immigration challenges that our country faces today. These measures would boost the economy and provide relief to millions of people and families who are active contributors to the workforce and everyday life in the U.S., yet lack a feasible path to fully contribute and fulfill essential job vacancies.
“During the pandemic we saw immigrant workers serve on the front lines to help the country move forward. At that time, they were called ‘heroes’ by President Biden and now — they are forgotten,” said Yesenia Mata, executive director of La Colmena, an immigrant worker center in Staten Island. “It is time for President Biden to act and support the efforts and contributions that immigrant workers have contributed for years.”
“My husband and I have been working in the shadows for 27 years. During this time, we have paid taxes, bought a house and raised two upstanding U.S. citizens,” said Consuelo Martínez, a community leader with The Resurrection Project and Chicago’s Mexican immigrant community. “President Biden has demonstrated his authority to grant work permits through parole. Granting work permits to long-term immigrants is justice our hard-working community deserves.”
Participants of the National “Here to Work” Day of Action represented immigrant constituencies who would benefit from TPS and DED expansion; long-term immigrants who have not benefited from the President’s recent expansion of work authorization; U.S. citizen spouses of undocumented immigrants; Dreamers; labor organizations and employers.
It’s reported that in swing states alone, over two million U.S. citizens live with an undocumented person and more than 350,000 are married to one, presenting a great political imperative for President Biden to act.
“America is known as a ‘shining city on a hill’ in large part due to its history of welcoming waves of immigrants who continue to make enormous contributions to its social fabric and economy. This country has a moral obligation to support those who have invested their time and talent and are paying taxes to strengthen this nation,” said Eréndira “Ere” Rendón, vice president of Immigrant Justice for The Resurrection Project in Chicago. “Issuing work permits to both long-term and recently arrived immigrants is a solution to President Biden’s goal of building a stronger and more inclusive economy from the bottom-up and the middle out. Our ability to remain a beacon for others depends on our ability to act as a nation erected by immigrants. Mr. President, allow it to build its greatness further; authorize more work permits now!”
“Immigrants have lived here for decades, creating homes, raising families and building futures. Some are even grandparents looking at their golden years without knowing what tomorrow will bring,” stated Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA, the national organization serving Black, Latine, Indigenous and Immigrant communities. “At the heart of this country is the respect and dignity that everyone who lives here deserves — the minimum standard is work authorization that opens safety and security, though temporary it is. We look to President Biden to use the full authority of his office and move on work authorizations, including temporary protected status.”
“Whether you arrived days ago or decades ago, immigrants deserve dignity. Many of my constituents have worked and paid taxes for years, but still live without the protection and stability that comes from a work permit,” saidCongressman Jesús “Chuy” García. “I am proud to join organizers, advocates and constituents who have traveled to Washington today to urge President Biden to expand access to work permits.”
“Contributions by immigrants to this country’s workforce and economy should not be understated. Many have been in this country for many years, paying taxes, working indispensable jobs that keep our communities running,” said Donnie Gibson, president of Civil Werx, a licensed general engineering contractor in Nevada. “And when taking the labor shortages across the country into account — it becomes crystal clear that we need immigrant workers.”
With the stroke of a pen, President Biden has the authority under current immigration law to expand work permits to immigrants that have lived and worked in the U.S. for many years, through the use of parole.
Since February 2023, the Here to Work Coalition has rallied more than 300 businesses, Republican and Democratic governors and members of Congress to urge the Biden administration to expand work permits for long-term immigrant contributors already in the U.S. — including through the use of parole under the significant public benefit provisions of current law, humanitarian parole, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) redesignation and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). Taking bold, humane, common-sense action is justified on its merits, and it is politically popular. As laid out in a memo by American Families United, immigration voters — U.S. citizen adults living with undocumented immigrants — are a force in swing states, making common-sense, humane action on immigration their top priority. Among the memo’s key points:
The Resurrection Project (TRP) builds trusting relationships to educate and propel individuals, immigrants, and families to achieve their social and economic aspirations, stable homes, and equitable participation in their community. TRP is a leading provider of affordable housing, financial education, and immigration services on Chicago’s Southwest side.
For more than three decades TRP has worked to improve the lives of individuals and families by creating wealth, building assets, and engaging residents to be catalysts for change. Rooted in the Pilsen community, TRP’s impact now extends across the City of Chicago and through the State of Illinois; we are making steady progress towards leveraging and preserving more than $1 billion in community wealth by 2025.
ABIC Actionwas created to mobilize the power of American businesses and the general public to promote and advocate for sensible immigration solutions. ABIC Action will develop and advocate for legislation, regulations, and government programs that promote common-sense state and federal immigration reform to benefit the people and economy of our country. ABIC Action operates under federal income tax under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).