Yesterday I attended the Inauguration Day Citizenship for All rally at San José City Hall. Organized by Decolonial ActionLab, there was a car caravan action that ended at City Hall where the rally was held. A number of powerful speakers addressed a socially distanced crowd in both English and Spanish. They each spoke from personal experience of years of activating around immigration rights and ongoing struggles they continue to face, making it blatantly clear that the fight is not over.
Read the press release below from Decolonial ActionLab:
For immediate release / January 20, 2021
Undocumented immigrants, dying at higher rates from COVID-19 and paying $193 billion in annual taxes, warn that President Biden’s immigration plan is dead on arrival without ending the Senate filibuster, and demand no more excuses; end the filibuster, stop the deportations, close the detention centers, and legalization for all now.
Biden’s plan for immediate green cards does not include domestic workers, construction workers; single mothers who work for their children; the most hard-working immigrants or the 15,000 immigrants languishing in immigrant detention, where COVID-19 is rampant, and where social distancing is not possible.
Biden’s executive orders also do not issue a moratorium on deportations or end immigrant detention.
In total, undocumented immigrants pay $193.4 billion each year ($528 million every day or $22 million per hour) only to be excluded from COVID-19 relief and all other public benefits.
On his Inauguration Day, President Biden sent to Congress the Citizenship Act of 2021, which would allow undocumented individuals present in the United States on or before January 1, 2021 to apply for temporary legal status, with the ability to apply for Lawful Permanent Resident status (green cards) after five years. Dreamers, TPS holders, and immigrant farmworkers who meet certain requirements, on the other hand, would be eligible for green cards immediately. Those who obtain green cards would then be eligible to apply for citizenship after 3 years. President Biden’s immigration plan would also provide a waiver for those deported on or after January 20, 2017, who were physically present for at least three years prior to removal, for family unity and other humanitarian reasons.
Undocumented families from the Legalization for All campaign, and 40 immigrant rights organizations, warn however that without ending the Senate filibuster, the Democrats will again betray the undocumented community who mostly are essential workers, in the midst of the worst global pandemic in a century.
Currently, the Democrats don’t have the votes in the Senate to pass the Citizenship Act of 2021 because they lack the 60 votes to overcome the filibuster, which is an anti-democratic law that hinders progress and change in this country, and only serves to protect the interest of the wealthy and corporations. Without ending the filibuster, President Biden’s plan will lead to the same failed bipartisan strategy of Comprehensive Immigration Reform of 2007 and 2013, which criminalizes immigrants affected by over policing and mass incarceration, in particular Black immigrants who are disproportionately deported, while simultaneously expanding immigration enforcement, private detention, and the militarization of the border in exchange for Republican votes. This is a failed strategy that will only lead to more exclusions, more deportations, and more family separations.
Without ending the filibuster, therefore, the Democrats’ promises will once again betray the immigrant community. After all, it was in 2008 when President Obama and vice president Biden promised the same legalization for 11 million of undocumented immigrants only to betray those promises with a record 3 million deportations, mass detention, and family separation that paved the way for President Trump’s agenda of hate. Then as now, the Democrats also controlled both the Senate and the House of Representatives Immigrants can no longer wait and say no more broken promises.
The time for the Democrats to deliver on their promises of legalization for undocumented immigrants and essential workers is now. In the midst of the worst global pandemic in a century, Latino and Black undocumented workers in the United States risk their lives and die at higher rates than the general population from COVID-19 (1), all while being denied access to federal stimulus relief despite undocumented immigrants paying $193 billion in federal, state, and local taxes and other payments (2).
Indeed, the 11 million undocumented workers contribute $79.7 billion annually in federal taxes and $41 billion in state and local taxes without ever receiving a benefit. Undocumented workers have a purchasing power of $314.9 billion, own 1.6 million homes and pay $ 20.6 billion in mortgages each year, and pay $ 49.1 billion in rent each year. One of the most important contributions undocumented immigrants make is to maintain the social safety network, paying $17 billion to Social Security and $7 billion to Medicare each year, without having access to these programs (2).
In total, undocumented immigrants pay $193.4 billion each year ($528 million every day or $ 22 million per hour) only to be excluded from COVID-19 relief and all other public benefits. Therefore, it can be said that being undocumented not only means undocumented immigrants pay more taxes than Donald Trump and large corporations, but it means that the United States is an Apartheid Regime where undocumented immigrants and other oppressed communities are Second Class Citizens.
Now more than ever, legalization for all is a matter of public health. People without documents are being more infected and affected by COVID-19. Undocumented immigrants are dying at higher rates than the general population because factors like poverty, inequality, and discrimination, and because a great majority of undocumented workers are essential workers who do not have the ability to stop working (1). President Biden should no longer exclude COVID-19 relief to undocumented immigrants or their loved ones. After all, undocumented immigratns contribute nearly $80 billion in federal taxes each year. (2)
Thus, without ending the filibuster – which the Democrats could do with their 51 vote majority in the Senate – President Biden’s immigration plan will only lead to more detentions, more deportations, and more exclusions of essential workers and people who most urgently deserve immediate and permanent protection. Domestic workers, farmers who grow and harvest food, those who pack food, those who cook and sell it – all will be left to languish without legalization for all. Those undocumented workers who have become ill working for this country for 20 or 30 years and have a disability; construction workers; single mothers who work for their children; the most hard-working but poor migrants; and people unjustly imprisoned in detention centers – all would be left to languish in the shadows and subject to more detention, more deportations, and more family separations. This is discrimination, an injustice, and a harmful and incomplete public policy.
The undocumented community urges no more excuses from President Biden and the Democratic Party. End the filibuster and pass legalization for all, without excluding essential workers or those criminalized by mass incarceration. There are no more excuses.
In the midst of the worst global pandemic President Biden has the authority to end immigrant detention through executive action. There are more than 15,000 immigrants languishing in immigrant detention, where COVID-19 is rampant, and where social distancing is not possible, and where immigrants lack adequate medical care. Immigrants should never again be detained for a civil violation or for being undocumented, and definitely not during the worst pandemic in a century. President Biden also has the executive authority to issue a moratorium on all deportations, and to rescind President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy which violates this country’s international refugee agreements, and is a violation of human rights.
Finally, undocumented immigrants in the Legalization for All campaign call on all movements for social justice – the Black Lives Matter movement, the women’s movement, the LGBTQ movement, the movement to end homelessness and protect the evicted and the poor, and the movement for worker rights – to join us in our fight to end the filibuster and together fight for a national agenda of equality, justice, freedom, antiracism, reparations, and peace. We call on all movements to join us in the streets to demand a better country for our families and communities. The pandemic has shown that we cannot wait and that justice can no longer be deferred.
Endorsements: Immigrant families of the “Legalization for All” Campaign, the Rapid Response Network in Santa Clara County, LUNA – Latinos United for a New America (LUNA), Pangea Legal Services, Amigos de Guadalupe, Community Center for Justice and Empowerment, La Voz de los Trabajadores, Decolonial ActionLab, VietUnity South Bay, Monterey Rapid Response Network, Silicon Valley SV De-Bug, Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) , CAIR – San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA), Monument Impact, PACT: People Acting in Community Together, Showing Up for Racial Justice at Sacred Heart, Sacred Heart Community Service , Chicana Latina Foundation, the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, Pacifica Social Justice, Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, STEPUP! Sacramento, Campaign for Immigrant Detention Reform (CIDR), North Bay Rapid Response Network, Orange County Rapid Response Network, Labor Fightback Network, Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network, Haiti Liberte Newspaper, Socialist Organizer, Asian Law Alliance, Immigrant Defense Advocates, The Organizer Newspaper, Human Agenda, Never Again Committee of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco, Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN), NYC Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, San Jose Peace and Justice Center / Collins Foundation, Together We Will – San José, Comité Organizador de la Conferencia Binacional Contra NAFTA 2.0 y el Muro de la Verguenza
Contact: Salvador Bustamante (408) 466-2722, Luis Angel Reyes Savalza (415) 635-4931, Luis Moreno (408) 613-7665
1. With a 12 percent increase, White people reported the smallest rise in mortality rates compared to previous years. In turn, Latinos reported the largest increase with a 54 percent jump in mortality rates. Latinos are by far the youngest population in the US, and thus, in theory, should be among the least at risk to COVID. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6942e2.htm and https://theglobepost.com/…/pandenomics-undocumented-covid-…/
2. Protecting Undocumented Workers on the Pandemic’s Front Lines. Immigrants Are Essential to America’s Recovery. https://www.americanprogress.org/…/protecting-undocumented…/
Research: Pangea Legal Services and Decolonial Action Lab.