-- The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), the largest immigrant rights organization in California, recognizes the historic investments in education, climate and children included in the final Build Back Better bill passed today by the House of Representatives. However, we are profoundly disappointed that it left out a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.
The House vote was 220-213.
At the moment, Build Back Better excludes a registry update that would have put broad access to permanent residency at the beginning of a path to citizenship. Instead, it proposes that immigrants, who have waited decades to be fully recognized as the Americans they already are, receive only a temporary work permit program in return.
Grassroots immigrant groups for months made clear our request in protests, briefings and civil disobedience actions from New York to Los Angeles: we want a broad path to citizenship beginning with access to green cards -- no more temporary fixes. In California, nearly one in 10 workers is undocumented, and such workers pay an estimated $3 billion in state and local taxes annually. These are among the people for whom we sought permanent solutions. But our pleas, tweets and arrests were not enough to change the language of the bill now heading to the Senate.
The program contained in the bill only allows immigrants to apply for a work permit and protection from deportation for five years. After that, they can renew for another five years. At the end of that, there is no other relief. There is also no guarantee that increasingly hostile courts, as well as future Congresses or White Houses, will not cut short even this temporary fix.
We believe that to achieve truly lasting protections for immigrants, a registry update must be part of the bill. Congress CAN do this, and we are not going to stop fighting for a permanent solution in the Senate, or rallying support from President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Please attribute the following statements to Angelica Salas, CHIRLA executive director:
"Immigrants know what they want in their lives, and we at CHIRLA have continued speaking with their truth throughout this entire process. We send love to all our people across the country who mobilized, closed streets and got arrested for stating unequivocally what they want and deserve: green cards now.
"Truly transformative immigration relief is not temporary. It is permanent, because our lives here are permanent; our ongoing contributions and investments in this society are permanent. Transformative immigration relief is about a broad, open path to citizenship that begins with the ability to apply for a green card.
"This is why we pushed for an update to the registry in the House, and while it was cruelly yanked at the eleventh hour, we will continue pushing for it as the bill moves to the Senate. We will not allow others to dictate to us what is good for us. We know. We have a voice of our own, and we will use it to hold our representatives accountable."