Issued March 16, 2021
WASHINGTON—SEIU International Executive Vice President Rocio Sáenz issued the following statement in response to the introduction of the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, a new bill introduced by Senators Padilla (D-CA) and Warren (D-MA) and Representatives Castro (D-TX) and Lieu (D-CA) which would provide a roadmap to citizenship to the estimated 5.2 million undocumented workers deemed essential during this pandemic:
“This legislation recognizes the invaluable sacrifices undocumented essential workers make each and every day to keep America fed, clean, and running during this pandemic.
“From housekeepers and janitors disinfecting our hospitals and office buildings, to health care professionals caring for patients who are sick with Covid-19, to farm workers picking our crops, essential immigrant workers have proven how valuable they are to all of us. They have earned peace of mind and the ability to plan their lives and care for their families without fear of deportation.
“There’s a huge contradiction happening right now. Our own government deems these workers as essential and at the same deportable because of our broken and inhumane immigration system. That’s why SEIU members and essential workers are demanding: respect us, protect us, and pay us. That includes immigrant workers having access to Covid-19 relief and a roadmap to citizenship, along with $15 an hour and the right to join a union.
“Legalizing essential workers is a necessary part of Covid-19 recovery. We can’t beat the virus or have a true economic recovery when millions of essential workers and their families are left out. Our health and well-being depend on one another’s. We therefore urge Congress to move this and other bills, such as the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, the Dream and Promise Act, and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, forward as soon as possible.”