Atlanta – Essential workers, many of whom are our immigrant family members and neighbors, are among the many Georgians who have come together to help get us through the pandemic. And yet, many immigrant workers have been unjustly excluded from full citizenship in the United States.
Both Congress and the American people want solutions. Congress has made many legislative attempts at creating a path to citizenship. In March, bills that allow farmworkers and people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to apply for permanent legal status cleared the House on a bipartisan basis. Polling from NPR/Ipsos, Global Strategy Group, ALG Research, Public Opinion Strategies (GOP) poll, and Data For Progress all show that a range of 66% to 75% of those polled desire a path to citizenship. In spite of this overwhelming support, a permanent solution has yet to be signed into law.
As people of faith, we believe in the inherent dignity of every human being, worthy of justice and inclusion. We believe that our federal government must legislate in ways that promote full human flourishing, as creating a path to citizenship would do. The next step is for the Senate to take bold action. People in Georgia are calling on Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to ensure that a path to citizenship for our immigrant family members, neighbors, and friends becomes law this year.
Residents of Georgia, including communities of faith, want Congress to pass a path to citizenship for the nearly 240,000 undocumented immigrant workers in the state, approximately 170,000 of whom are essential workers. Reverend Caroline McGee, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta and Faith in Public Life Action in Atlanta, Georgia said, “As a pastor, I believe in the God-given dignity of people, including our immigrant neighbors. The pandemic has shown us that immigrants are essential to our communities and workplaces, but are too often exploited and neglected. Immigrant families have lost thousands of loved ones who had no choice but to keep working in deadly conditions. Congress has a moral responsibility to pass policy that provides a pathway to citizenship for all immigrants in the nation.”
Recent polling from Data For Progress found that 61% of Georgians polled were in support of legislation that would create a path to citizenship for essential workers and other undocumented immigrants. This support has also been vocalized among local policymakers: in March, four Georgia mayors signed a letter to Congress in support of a path to citizenship for Dreamers and DACA recipients.
“Congress and the Biden administration must seize this opportunity and finally move things forward on immigration,” said Elissa Diaz, Policy and Advocacy Manager at Church World Service and Co-Chair of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC). “A path to citizenship has broad support across the country, including among people of faith. It would transform the lives of so many children and families, including those who are members of our congregations, places of worship, and communities. Our leadership in Washington must do everything possible, and use every legislative means at their disposal, to pass it this year.”
The Interfaith Immigration Coalition is made up of over 55 national, faith-based organizations brought together across many theological traditions with a common call to seek just policies that lift up the God-given dignity of every individual. In partnership, they work to protect the rights, dignity, and safety of all refugees and migrants.