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SPLC Action: U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 Offers Potential for Long Overdue Justice and Opportunity for Immigrants

Now is the time for boldness, not concessions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Biden administration today introduced the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 to the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislative package aims to create a pathway to citizenship for up to 11 million members of our communities; modernize the U.S. immigration system; and end discriminatory immigration policies. It also includes key bills such as the Dream and Promise Act and Farm Workforce Modernization Act.

The following statement is from Kelli Garcia, federal policy counsel for the SPLC Action Fund.

“Black, Brown and Indigenous communities and activists have long advocated for a just and humane immigration system including a pathway to citizenship that leaves no one behind. The introduction of this legislation speaks to the power of these communities and is an important step forward for a country that has fallen short of realizing its stated ideals of freedom, opportunity and justice for all. 

“The Biden administration and Congress can begin to rebuild our institutions by establishing a fair, humane and functional immigration system grounded in human rights and dignity for all. Although Congress has failed to deliver this critical change for far too long, key provisions of the bill enjoy broad bipartisan and public support. 

“Most people agree Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders should become U.S. citizens. Americans agree that the essential workers and farmworkers who keep food on our plates deserve a pathway to citizenship. And Americans from all backgrounds agree that people seeking asylum and a better life in the U.S. should not be turned away or sent to an immigration prison, but instead be welcomed into communities where they can become integral members of society. 

“However, some members of Congress already appear poised to include carve outs to narrow access to a pathway to citizenship. This ‘trade-off’ mentality is the same mistake that has caused prior efforts to fall short and is an unnecessary concession to a discriminatory criminal legal system. Maintaining and expanding barriers to legalization for people who have had contact with the criminal legal system only exacerbate, not reduce, the decades-long harm of our broken criminal justice system.

“Congress must heed the call from immigrant communities and move boldly and urgently to meet the moment. Our intentionally chaotic and cruel system has harmed millions of immigrants, and they have demanded justice for far too long. With an inclusive pathway to citizenship for 11 million people, we can unite communities and move our nation forward.”

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SPLC Action’s full immigration priorities can be found here. To schedule an interview with an SPLC Action policy expert or immigration attorney, please email jeff.migliozzi@splcenter.org