Immigrant Mothers Risked Arrest in DC Uplifting Urgency for Pathway to Citizenship

Washington, DC – Hundreds of immigrant mothers, families, and allies held a ‘People’s Hearing’ in the street in front of the Senate Buildings in Northeast DC, to urgently call for citizenship for undocumented immigrants, right before the Senate hearing on the Citizenship for Essential Workers Bill. Around 40 immigrant essential workers and immigrant mothers from Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia engaged in civil disobedience and occupied the street outside of the Dirksen and Russell Senate Office Buildings. Capitol Police arrested participants blocking the intersection of 1st St. NE and Constitution Ave. NE. Many were immigrant mothers and essential workers working in sectors such as health, food, and housekeeping. 

The immigrant community members, activists, and allies marched from the Republican National Committee to the Senate office buildings to hold a ‘People’s Hearing’ on essential workers. The activists, including immigrant mothers and essential workers, called out Republican obstructionists who have continued to block a pathway to citizenship for any immigrants through regular legislative order. In the wake of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's comments about being ‘100 percent’ focused on ‘stopping’ the Biden administration, the action celebrates the sacrifices of immigrant mothers during Mother’s Day week.

“History shows that we move forward as a country when we work together with all of our neighbors to solve our problems and improve our communities,” said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition and a FIRM Action co-chair. “We've seen this close-up during this pandemic when so many of our immigrant neighbors, especially working mothers, stepped up to ensure their communities had access to food, health services, family care, and so much more throughout an intensely difficult time for the nation. It's long past time that we recognize the vital contributions of our mothers and all our essential workers by ensuring that they have a path to citizenship that will provide safety and security to their families and rebuild our economy. The New York Immigration Coalition stands with FIRM Action, FIRM, and CASA to demand that Congress include a pathway to citizenship for DACA and TPS holders and essential workers in the American Families Plan. Americans can only recover from COVID-19 together.”

TPS holder from El Salvador Maria Rivas is a Maryland resident who got arrested in front of Senate Office Buildings. This CASA member said, “I stand here today with other immigrant mothers to demand a pathway to citizenship. As a TPS holder, I am protected for now, but this is a temporary protection at the mercy of the leaders of our government. I am calling on Congress and the Biden administration to pass a pathway to citizenship for us. We need leaders who will protect our communities.” 

“Any comprehensive plan to benefit families in the U.S. that doesn’t take into account immigrant families, just isn’t going to cut it,” said Linda Sarsour, Executive Director of MPower Change. “If the American Families Act continues to gain traction in our Congress without honoring the contributions of immigrant essential workers, we all lose. And what better way to honor the dignity of families, particularly mothers, than providing a pathway to citizenship to immigrant essential workers on mothers day? As mothers and immigrants ourselves, we stand in solidarity with hard working immigrant families who deserve real policy that brings real belonging. People are tired, overworked, and are surviving a pandemic, we don’t need to be called lofty things like 'heroes,’ we need a government that works for us as much as we work for it. The American Families Act must include a pathway to citizenship for essential immigrant workers, period.”

“As a house cleaner, I am entrusted to maintain your home - your sanctuary. Yet, as an undocumented immigrant, I have no sanctuary of my own. I live every day knowing that I might be ripped away from my children and my community and as a single mother, this is a constant agonizing fear. And it is not right that immigrants, like me, all over this country have made so many sacrifices to ensure that others are taken care of and to ensure the economic stability of this country. As a domestic worker, this has always been true—our work is what makes other work possible—it has always been essential and will continue to be essential. Therefore, we need to value and protect ALL domestic workers and the U.S. Citizenship for Essential Workers Act is one of the ways to do just that. We call on the Senate and it’s leadership to include a pathway to citizenship for immigrant essential workers in the American Families Plan NOW!” Said Alejandra, Undocumented Essential Worker, National Domestic Workers Alliance  

Participating organizations include CASA, Center for Popular Democracy, Congregational Action Network (CAN), Disciples Immigrant and Refugee Ministry, FIRM, International Union Of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT DC51), IBEW Local 26, MPower Change, National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), and Northern Virginia Labor Federation.