America was built by millions of immigrants who have contributed to our economy and society, but for those who have lived in the shadows for decades, their contributions to our country have been for naught.
Last year the House of Representatives passed legislation which includes several key immigration provisions, including a proposal that would offer an estimated 8 million undocumented immigrants a work authorization, allowing them to legally work and stay in the U.S. without the fear of deportation. Make no mistake, comprehensive immigration reform is still needed, but these proposals would have an immediate and significant impact on the lives of millions of undocumented immigrants.
Recently Sen. Manchin resumed negotiations with the White House on the budget reconciliation process. This provides the Senate a once-in-a-generation chance to pass protections for Dreamers and other undocumented immigrants. While the Senate Parliamentarian did recently reject the possibility of providing immigrants a pathway to citizenship, we still have an opportunity to expand protections for undocumented immigrants in Arizona and across the country if our Senators choose to act anyway.
The time is now to end the uncertainty that clouds the lives of thousands of families across the country. These proposals would be a historic breakthrough by being the first major immigration legalization program in over three decades. Families who have been burdened by the fear of deportation and a lack of access to important resources for years have earned the right to receive protections they deserve. We cannot let this opportunity to pass protections for undocumented immigrants slip away, especially when most of our voters are eager to see legislation passed.
Recent polls have shown broad support for pathways to citizenship and other forms of legalization including offering undocumented immigrants a work permit and the ability to stay in the U.S. without the fear of deportation. This week 70 of Arizona’s most important business leaders delivered a letter to our Senators urging them to take action. Additionally, passing protections for Dreamers is overwhelmingly popular across party lines. Polling shows that two-thirds of Arizonan’s want to let Dreamers stay here, as well as 70% of conservatives, two-thirds of Trump supporters.
Let us not forget that during the darkest times of the pandemic, farmworkers, DACAmented nurses and health professionals, and countless undocumented immigrants working in the service industry kept the engine of America running, often times putting their lives at risk. Passing this proposal would also allow them to gain access to healthcare coverage and other federal and state benefits. We owe it to each and every one of them to get this proposal passed.
As an attorney and someone who emigrated to this country from Mexico as undocumented, it is my duty to advocate for all those in my community and I proudly stand with the Dreamers and other undocumented immigrants. For far too long now, activists, Dreamers, and advocacy groups have been fighting to pass protections for DACA recipients and other undocumented immigrants. This is especially true in Arizona, where countless organizations and individuals have been at the forefront of this issue. Their work deserves to be praised.
We can no longer stand idly by when there are thousands of American families at stake, vulnerable to deportation and separation, when the chance to relieve them of their worries is here. Immigrants represent the best of our communities, and they deserve security and certainty to continue building their lives here. I urge Congress to make passing protections for Dreamers and other undocumented immigrants a priority this year. We must get this done for the thousands of families in Arizona and nationwide.
Arturo Gonzalez is a leader in the Hispanic Community and attorney in Phoenix, formerly undocumented from Mexico.