For Immediate Release // Please Excuse Cross Posting
Thursday, February 18th, 2021
Contact: Viridiana Vidal,

NDLON Reaction ahead of bill introduction: “Hold all applause until the end”

Ahead of introduction of President’s Biden’s US Citizenship Act of 2021, Pablo Alvarado, Co-Executive Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) issued the following statement:

“There is a line from an old blues song that goes like this: ‘When you’ve been down so long, everything starts to look like up…’ And that’s certainly the case for immigrants after four years of Trump and during a once in a century pandemic killing our families at staggeringly disproportionate rates. But we should resist the temptation to applaud promises that might go unfulfilled.

“While the Biden Administration is certainly an improvement over the last two administrations, much more presidential leadership is needed— and much more quickly— to alleviate the domestic human rights crisis caused by decades of brutally unjust US policy toward immigrants and refugees. The stumbled rollout of an immigration reform agenda should be a wakeup call to all of us who are most impacted by government failure that we need to unify, raise our voice, and demand rights rather than wait to be spoken about and spoken for, by others. Enough.

“President Biden had an opportunity to present his bill- forcefully- on CNN this week, and he failed to do so. He must do better. In addition to articulating a 50-vote strategy as a path through the broken US Senate, he must lead through example by taking actions- today- to assist immigrants who are keeping the lights on in this country during one of its darkest hours.”

Chris Newman, General Counsel for NDLON added:

“Steps that President Biden can and should take today to compliment the introduction of this legislation include the following:

1) Issue an executive order making crystal clear that, for the next four years, the administration will forebear the deportation of every single person who would qualify for eventual citizenship under this proposal. The Supreme Court has signaled that this is would be a lawful exercise of authority, and there is no reason to wait;

2) Make a clear and unambiguous promise to include all putative beneficiaries of this bill in COVID relief packages to be passed through budget reconciliation. This should include access to benefits and work authorization for all (not some!) immigrants who would qualify for relief under this bill;

3) End the failed experiment (undertaken by the Obama Administration) that enlisted a criminal justice system plagued by systemic racism as frontline enforcers of immigration laws that themselves are plainly racist. The administration has more than enough expertise and political cover to hit the ‘off switch’ on programs like Secure Communities, 287g, and their progeny. The time for this action was yesterday;

4) Restore and expand TPS to the maximum extent permitted by law, and in the process, provide work authorization to millions of immigrants who cannot return to their countries of origin because of disaster and pandemic. Again, this should happen without delay; and

5) Instruct Secretaries Mayorkas and Walsh to present a joint plan to deconflict labor and immigration enforcement by, among other things, incentivizing immigrant workers to report abuses through a whistleblower programs that confer work authorization to all who step forward.

“Precisely because the country is facing unprecedented overlapping emergencies, the Biden Administration cannot wait for a broken Congress to reform itself before taking sensible steps that would reverse the damage caused in recent years. Presidential leadership is required to unify the Democratic Party and the country, and the longer Biden waits to provide it, the more difficult the aspirations set forth in this legislation will be to achieve.”