Senator Markey, Representative Meng, and NPNA Network Applaud Introduction of Immigration Reform Legislation with Inclusive Measures that Expand Access to Citizenship, Due Process, and Economic Opportunities
WASHINGTON – United States Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), U.S. Representative Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), and the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), a leading national coalition of 41 immigrant and refugee rights organizations, including the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) and the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), applaud the inclusion of New Deal for New Americans Act provisions in President Joseph Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act.
The U.S. Citizenship Act, proposed by the Biden administration and introduced by U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D- N.J.) and Congresswoman Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) last month, creates a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. The act also includes several provisions from the New Deal for New Americans Act, which Senator Markey and Congresswoman Meng re-introduced in Congress last week. Among the provisions are:
- funding for community-based organizations that help eligible individuals apply for permanent residency and citizenship, and offer English-language learning and workforce development programs;
- facilitating naturalization for the elderly and U.S. high school graduates;
- creating the U.S. Citizenship and Integration Foundation to expand and identify best practices in naturalization assistance while developing a national promotion campaign to encourage the millions of eligible immigrants to naturalize; and
- creating a pilot program to encourage state and local governments’ efforts to integrate immigrants.
The U.S. Citizenship Act also promotes the ideals within the New Deal for New Americans Act that all people facing deportation should have the right to an attorney, at government expense if they can’t afford it, by requiring the U.S. Attorney General to appoint lawyers for children, vulnerable individuals, and the parents of U.S. citizen children who are in immigration court.
“Right now is the moment to make our vision for a just, dignified, and welcoming immigration system a reality,” said U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey. “It is time to view our immigration policy through a lens of citizenship and provide resources and opportunity to all those who wish to make the United States home. It is encouraging to see the Biden administration adopt several measures from our New Deal for New Americans Act, and I am hopeful we can work together to make these long overdue and most-necessary changes to our immigration system.”
“This week at National Partnership for New American’s virtual town hall, Senator Markey and I laid out our vision on how this great country can build an immigration system that is inclusive and welcoming of immigrants and refugees,” said U.S. Representative Grace Meng. “We recently reintroduced our New Deal for New Americans Act, and I am thrilled that 10 provisions from our bill were included in the U.S. Citizenship Act, which seeks to provide many sweeping improvements to our immigrations system. This includes: funding for community-based and nonprofit organizations for English language learning classes to reach more immigrants and equip them with better language access; funding for qualifying organizations to educate and equip immigrants with occupational skills needed to secure or advance in employment; and Waiver of English Requirement for Senior New Americans to tear down a barrier for eligible older immigrants applying for naturalization. This development stands in sharp contrast to the previous administration’s vilification of immigrants. From the Muslim Ban to separating families at the border, we unequivocally reject that dystopian effort to reimagine our country. We offer a better vision of our shared future and send a signal to all who would seek refuge here that immigrants and refugees are welcomed. I look forward to helping to send the U.S. Citizenship Act to President Biden’s desk.”
“We are encouraged that the Biden administration, Senator Menendez, and Congresswoman Sánchez included significant integration provisions into the U.S. Citizenship Act,” said Nicole Melaku, NPNA’s executive director. “In addition to creating a path to citizenship, we need that path to be accessible and inclusive, and we need it to be accompanied by commonsense investments that expand economic opportunities.”
“The New Deal for New Americans makes clear our country’s commitment to families, by creating the policies and programs that will allow each and everyone of us to thrive. Expanding access to citizenship, due process, and economic opportunities are critical elements of necessary immigration reform,” said Rovika Rajkishun, interim co-executive director of NYIC. “We need a road to citizenship for our communities to be accompanied by a fundamental shift in how the federal government treats immigrants and refugees and invests in their development and wellbeing in order for America to embark on the path to recovery.”
“As we continue to struggle with the coronavirus pandemic and economic recession, is it now more clear than ever that we must be in this together in order to survive and thrive,” said Eva Millona, president and CEO of MIRA. “The New Deal for New Americans Act creates this framework for including all and we look forward to making this proposal a reality.”