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Build Back Better Package and Pathway to Permanent Residency Must Follow Infrastructure Deal

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, as U.S. President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan infrastructure deal into law, the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), a multi-ethnic coalition of the nation’s largest state-level immigrant advocacy organizations, urges the House of Representatives to vote on the Build Back Better (BBB) package, the complimentary social spending bill. NPNA also urges the House of Representatives to include a path to permanent residency in the BBB package via a registry update.

Since our founding, the NPNA network has worked to build the legal services capacity within our immigrant rights coalition and advocated for the accessibility of new immigration benefits, in order to implement the wins our coalition members have long fought for. Since our coalition has always called for full citizenship for all, NPNA urges Congressional leaders to include a registry update in the BBB package before sending the bill to the Senate. NPNA members like the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Make the Road New York, and the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium have called for the Senate to disregard the advisory opinion of the unelected Parliamentarian and include a road to permanent residency in the reconciliation package, and NPNA joins them in that call. 

“NPNA was founded on a vision of full inclusion of immigrants and refugees, which requires full citizenship. Let me remind Congressional leaders that a majority of the American people approve of providing a road to permanent residency,” said Nicole Melaku, executive director of NPNA. “Yet, the current Build Back Better framework does not include a pathway to citizenship. We urge Congressional leaders to be bold and stay true to their promises to the American people by including a registry update in the bill before sending it to the Senate.”

While the current BBB package does not include a road to permanent residency, the bill does include many positive provisions, including $2.8 billion for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to reduce the backlog of naturalization and other immigration applications. 

At the same time, NPNA is concerned that language in the BBB package specifically prohibits USCIS from issuing fee waivers for certain immigration benefits that would protect undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow work permits. This prohibition would limit access to new benefits for low-income and working-class immigrants. Any immigration benefits created by the BBB package should allow for fee waivers so that all eligible immigrants can access them independent of their class or wealth.

Immigrant and refugee-serving legal service organizations are ready to implement any legalization legislation to protect as many families as possible who might be eligible for relief. In July, a group of 18 national organizations with reach across all 50 states, including NPNA, launched the Ready To Stay campaign, a national effort to help immigrants navigate and access legal services. The Ready to Stay coalition and NPNA’s Family Protection network stand ready to mobilize legal services nationwide to help implement any changes that allow people to gain permanent residency or protections from removal.