There are 5 million undocumented people in the U.S. who have been working on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although their hard work keeps our lights on, our store shelves stocked and our communities safe and housed, most of these members of our communities have no viable path to citizenship. It is past time to grant millions of essential workers the ability to live without threat of deportation. Tell your members of Congress to support the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act today.
Too often, we have failed immigrant workers. Because essential jobs bear exposure risks, immigrant essential workers and their families are more likely to contract and die from COVID-19. Many immigrant essential workers labor under abysmal conditions and may have no recourse for mistreatment or injuries sustained on the job. In January 2021, six workers were killed and dozens more were injured by a liquid nitrogen leak at a poultry plant in Gainesville, Georgia. Poultry processors employ a high number of undocumented workers in a deliberate attempt to skirt workplace regulations. Consequently, plants are fraught with safety regulation violations. On top of inadequate workplace protections, immigrant workers risk deportation if they seek treatment for workplace injuries at a hospital.
In 2019, the SPLC sued the United States and agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for detaining approximately 100 Latino workers at an east Tennessee meat processing plant and violating their constitutional rights. The workers were detained based on their race, with no regard to citizenship or documentation. In Mississippi, a large-scale immigration raid that affected nearly 700 immigrant workers and hundreds of families led to the death of one essential worker who was deported to Guatemala. The raid, which ultimately caused hundreds of deportations, also coincided with the first week of school, and many children were left to fend for themselves when they returned to find empty homes.
More than 4 million undocumented essential workers largely lack any protection from deportation, meaning a worker deemed essential today could be deported tomorrow. We need you to help us stand with essential workers and ensure they are granted the immediate protections they and their families deserve. Contact your members of Congress now and ask them to support an immediate pathway to citizenship for essential workers.