Texas Democrats Advance Build Back Better Immigration Benefits
Border lawmakers urge immigrants to be patient, support measures protecting them from deportation now, and fight for citizenship later
EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – As the House of Representatives may get ready to vote on the $ 2 trillion Build Back Better Act, possibly as early as Friday, two Texas Democrats have stressed Thursday how this would reward essential workers who lack immigrant status laws.
“Immigrants are essential and America is their home. They deserve to be here. Congress must provide this much needed help in the form of work permits and deportation protection, ”said US Representative Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, on the steps of the Capitol.
He was joined by advocates and some of the immigrants who should benefit from the bill.
The most recent version of the Build Back Better Act includes $ 100 million to speed up the processing of immigration benefits and provisions to protect against deportation for up to 7 million immigrants, by some estimates.
The bill provides for a five-year “parole” for undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States since 2011. It does not include a pathway to citizenship, although advocates are lobbying Democrats for them to be bold and reconsider their decision.
US Representative Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, said securing the current benefits of the law was a start.
“We most likely have work permits and protections left. Although this is absolutely insufficient, we have to cross the finish line, ”she said. “It saves Congress more time so that we can fulfill our obligation and make sure we give them the path of citizenship they deserve.”
Castro and Escobar both praised undocumented immigrants from the food, hospitality and healthcare industries who went to work during the COVID-19 pandemic while most U.S. professionals worked from home.
“In San Antonio, essential immigrant workers have continued to keep our city safe, healthy and progressing during this pandemic,” Castro said. “Immigrants are essential entrepreneurs, job creators, innovators, consumers and workers who fuel our country’s economy and create employment opportunities for all Americans. Certain industries would not exist or prosper without them.
Various activists, who also do not have legal immigrant status, explained Thursday how they live in constant anguish of being deported.
“Last year I found myself with depression and anxiety due to the fear of being deported,” said Julio Calderon, originally from Honduras with a pending removal order from 2006. “I didn’t have never had access to a driver’s license, I have never had access to an identity document. I know any interaction with (law enforcement) could take me back to Honduras, a country I haven’t even been to for the past 16 years.
Calderon said he and his family now have strong ties to the United States and have done something on their own.
“I now have a degree in economics from Florida International University,” he said. “My parents have (Temporary Protected Status), my sister is a US citizen, and my brother is in (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). It’s four different statuses in a family of six. That is why we say the immigration system is broken.