New York, NY—32BJ SEIU and other leading immigrant advocates have been fighting for a path to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans for years, and now is finally the time to pass a law that fixes our country’s broken immigration system once and for all. This bill is not what we would have crafted. The massive build-up at the Southern border will have serious ramifications for border communities and American taxpayers, and we will work vigorously to change these provisions before this bill becomes law. However, the path to citizenship—the heart of this bill—is largely intact and will provide relief for millions of immigrant families around the country.
“On behalf of our 125,000 members and their families, I want recognize the Senate for passing this historic piece of legislation, and Senator Schumer for his leadership, which will allow 11 million people to come out of the shadows,” said Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU. “While we object to the unnecessary border security spending, we believe that this bill keeps intact the crucial elements of commonsense immigration reform. We now turn our attention to the House where we will continue the struggle to give people the ability to work with dignity and keep their families together.”
32BJ members also expressed their relief that the bill had passed and their hope that it would clear the House.
“This is the law we have been waiting for so long, not just undocumented workers, but all Americans,” said Tatiana Lambert, a member of 32BJ who has worked as a cleaner in Manhattan since she came to this country from Albania 14 years ago. “We need them here. They are the next generation of Americans. They are our neighbors; we go to school with them. Americans should be proud of this bill.”
“The existing immigration policy has separated my family,” said Adbul Basher, a member of 32BJ who emigrated from Bangladesh 19 years ago and works in Manhattan as a security guard. “My wife had to leave the country two years ago because her mother and three brothers died, and she cannot come back, so I am taking care of our son on my own. This will help us and unite our family.”
The recent Congressional Budget Office analysis shows that the bipartisan Senate bill would decrease the federal deficit by $175 billion over the next 10-year period. And it would be hugely beneficial for state and local economies. In a 20-year outlook, the CBO estimated that comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship would further decrease the federal deficit by another $700 billion by 2033.
Republicans in the House under Speaker Boehner’s leadership must realize that the American people are on the side of reform and want to see Congress solve this problem. They must find a way forward to make a pathway to citizenship for millions a reality. Thanks to support from Senators like Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and their colleagues on both sides of the aisle, there is now even more pressure on the House to get on board and fix our broken immigration system, once and for all.