1,000 Immigrant Essential Workers & Allies Take Over Manhattan Bridge Calling for Citizenship for All

Aerial footage over Manhattan bridge here

New York, NY–Today, immigrant rights advocates brought their demand for the inclusion of a pathway to citizenship for 5 million undocumented essential workers, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries, and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients in the next federal infrastructure package to the streets of New York City. Rallying alongside essential immigrant workers, allies, and elected officials, the group marched across the Manhattan Bridge. Today’s march and rally were part of a series of community-led infrastructure actions in several cities across the country, including Washington DC, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Last week, the national movement scored a crucial victory when Senate Democrats announced that their infrastructure package would include a pathway to citizenship. The recent court decision to end the DACA program only underscores the urgency for Democrats to hold the line and ensure a pathway to citizenship for immigrant essential workers, DACA, and TPS recipients. 

“Congress has the chance to fulfill the broken promises of more than three decades by securing a pathway to citizenship via the Senate Democrats’ infrastructure package,“ said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition and FIRM Action Co-Chair. “Last week’s ruling on DACA makes it crystal clear that Washington can’t keep playing politics with the lives of immigrant New Yorkers and the hundreds of thousands like them across the country. For more than 15 months, millions of immigrants have served on the front lines of a global pandemic all while living under the constant threat of family separation. Today’s actions are a reminder that our immigrant communities have always been essential and cannot wait any longer to breathe free. It is long past time our country values their work, sacrifices and contributions.``

“Today, immigrant essential workers marched with a clear message: the recovery of our country must include long awaited immigration relief,” said Jose Lopez, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. “Our neighbors and loved ones have been waiting for decades for a path to citizenship that they deserve. Throughout the pandemic immigrant essential workers put their life on the line to keep our communities safe. On the heels of a devastating DACA decision, and as we move forward the reconciliation process, we urge Congress to use all means necessary to deliver a path to citizenship to millions of undocumented people this year.” 

“Congress must secure a pathway to citizenship for essential workers, who during a pandemic kept on working without access to health care or benefits, and it's because of them that we were able to survive and many people were able to stay home,” said Natalia Aristizabal, Director of Immigrant Justice at the Center for Popular Democracy. “We must include in the reconciliation a pathway for permanent protections and safety for essential workers,  DACA recipients, farmworkers, and TPS holders. Immigrants are essential and they continue to live in uncertainty and precarity.The time is now for Congress to end this limbo and provide the certainty and stability immigrants need to thrive.”

A recent FWD.us report revealed a clear majority of Americans support legalization for Dreamers, TPS recipients, and essential workers. The report also outlines that legalization would provide $149 billion in GDP and $39 billion in federal, state, and local taxes.  

“I am proud to stand with incredible advocates in New York’s 16th Congressional District fight for a pathway to citizenship and federal relief for our undocumented and excluded community members,” said Congressman Jamaal Bowman. “As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic that has disproportionately impacted immigrants in my district and across the country, we cannot leave our neighbors behind. Together, we can build a world where everyone has access to the care and resources they need, regardless of their immigration status.”

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, undocumented essential workers put their lives on the line to keep America healthy, fed, and moving,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat. “Undocumented essential workers are essential: they stepped up for America, and now it’s time for Congress to step up for them. For so many immigrants, becoming a United States citizen is the realization of hard work, dedication, hope and a dream for a better life – for themselves and for their families.  We must continue the momentum and never cease in our fight to ensure a pathway to citizenship once and for all, because the time for action is long past due.”

On behalf of the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaign: “Undocumented immigrants have kept this country running during COVID-19, and in order to ensure a robust recovery that is inclusive and equitable for all. Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez believes we must use every tool at our disposal to create a pathway to citizenship for essential workers, Dreamers, and TPS holders. The next federal infrastructure package gives us a unique shot to advance stagnant immigration action and rebuild the communities at the forefront of this pandemic."

“For decades, immigrants have been an integral part of our communities and have helped to uplift our economy,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our essential workers, many of whom are immigrants and undocumented, risked their own health and safety to continue to provide for their families and our communities. As one of the authors of the American Dream and Promise Act, I have long supported offering a clear and permanent pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants including DACA recipients and TPS holders. We cannot rest until we pursue all opportunities to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

 “Immigrants help build our nation, contribute billions to our economy, and their essential work got us through our darkest days of this pandemic and on the road to recovery, “ said State Senator Jessica Ramos. “It’s imperative that our federal government makes comprehensive immigration reform a priority and keeps a path to citizenship in this infrastructure package. All of our essential workers deserve to provide for their loved ones and take care of their communities without fear.”

“We have long known that immigrant workers and families are essential members of our communities," said State Senator Julia Salazar. “Our communities are still recovering from the devastation of an extended public health emergency. The impact of the pandemic in immigrant communities made clear just how essential immigrant workers are as well as the many ways in which they continue to be marginalized, excluded, and unnecessarily placed in jeopardy. I fully support the call for the federal infrastructure package to include a pathway to citizenship. This is essential, and now is the time to make it happen.”  

“In Queens, we know that immigrants are essential. We know this because it was our neighbors and friends who stepped up to keep this city fed, safe, and healthy even as their communities became the epicenter of New York's COVID-19 outbreak,” said Assemblymember Catalina Cruz. “Cut off from any Federal aid and constantly under threat of deportation, the people I represent, and millions like them, deserve more. Luckily, Congress can deliver for our communities by passing President Biden's infrastructure package. provide a pathway to citizenship for millions." 

“Immigrants are the backbone of this nation. I know because I represent one of the largest immigrant communities in the United States and I have witnessed as my neighbors rose to the occasion during the worst of the pandemic to feed our communities, to deliver food to isolated people, and work on the frontlines in our hospitals and clinics,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas. “At the same time, our undocumented communities have received no economic relief from our federal government even as so many died from coronavirus and now our courts have ordered that the government stop granting DACA applications. Enough is enough. It is time to grant a pathway to citizenship for 5 million undocumented essential workers and the President’s infrastructure package is the avenue to do it.”

“When our country faced a once-in-a-century threat, millions of undocumented essential workers answered the call and selflessly dedicated themselves to the wellbeing of our nation,” said Assemblymember Karines Reyes. “For decades, undocumented immigrants have made countless sacrifices in service of our nation. The time is now for Washington to create a pathway to citizenship for these undocumented essential workers that got us through a pandemic and continue to work for the betterment of the United States. The next federal infrastructure package must include this vital gateway for our brothers and sisters to become citizens at last.”

“This nation has been shaped and supported by immigrants long before the coronavirus, and the COVID-19 pandemic further demonstrated the critical role that so many immigrants – largely from Black and Brown communities which have seen disproportionate loss – played in protecting our city and country as essential workers,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. “Now, in the recovery from the pandemic, Congress has an opportunity and obligation to provide a pathway to citizenship for essential workers and the TPS and DACA recipients who have long been denied the security or protections they have worked to give all of us, in New York and nationwide.” 

"We are demanding a pathway to citizenship be included in the next federal infrastructure package because we have been overpromised and underdelivered for far too long," said Robert Agyemang, NY Director of African Communities Together. "The value and the contributions that we add to this country remains immeasurable, and the impact has been far greater than this country has acknowledged. Including a pathway to citizenship acknowledges it, and sends a clear message that IMMIGRANTS ARE ESSENTIAL"

“Faith communities across New York City are rising up to demand that members of congress provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented essential workers,” said Crystal Walthall, Executive Director of Faith in New York. “In Christian and Jewish faiths it is taught that we must love the stranger as ourselves. In Islam, we learn that the land should be open to all seeking refuge. It is time we stand up for our values and recognize that frontline workers are the beating heart that has kept our communities afloat during this global pandemic. We must grant them the opportunity to be full members of our great nation - now is the time!”

“As members and leaders in the immigrant community, Families for Freedom is fully aware of the impact that our immigrant brothers and sisters have had in this country for decades, especially through the global pandemic,” said Families for Freedom. We have been dedicated to the safety and health of our communities and it is long past time for Congress to recognize the dignity and humanity of ALL immigrants by acknowledging the hard work that we have been putting into not just our families, but also into this country and the American people as a whole. We all know communities of color, in particular black and brown communities, were most disproportionately affected by the pandemic while our lives continued to be put at risk in multiple ways. Yet, we have continued to live in fear of exclusion and expulsion by systems rooted in white supremacy and racism. We demand that Congress give ALL undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship!”

“As an essential worker, I believe ALL immigrants are essential, and we must not leave anyone behind. We need an immigration reform that includes ALL immigrants!” said Joanne Ibanez Rojas, member leader of New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE). “We deserve to have an opportunity to reunite with our families, to work with dignity, and have the same rights as all workers. ”

“It is urgent that Congress provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrants without delay. Millions of immigrants have risked their lives and the lives of their loved ones on the frontlines of the pandemic, working to ensure our country’s produce is picked, grocery stores are open and sanitized, and health care is delivered,” said Ann Toback, CEO, The Workers Circle. “Immigrants have long been an integral part of the fabric of America, they are our neighbors and friends and co-workers. Their contributions to our community and economy strengthen us as a nation. As an organization founded in 1900 by Eastern European Jewish immigrants, we will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with immigrant families today and fight to ensure that they have the same opportunities afforded to those who came to these shores a century ago. We call on Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for every man, woman, and child who calls this country their home.”


Rally Co-Sponsors

  • Academy of Medical & Public Health Services
  • Adhikaar
  • African Communities Together
  • Arab American Association of New York 
  • Archer Kent Blood Center for Civil and Political Rights
  • Asian American Federation
  • Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
  • Bend the Arc: Jewish Action Long Island 
  • The Black Institute
  • Cabrini Immigrant Services of NYC
  • Carroll Gardens Association
  • Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN)
  • Centro Corazon de Maria
  • El Centro del Inmigrante
  • Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) 
  • Chinese Progressive Association
  • Churches United For Fair Housing
  • Community Legal Advocates of NY 
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY)
  • Faith In New York
  • Jackson Heights Immigrant Solidarity Network
  • Jews for Racial & Economic Justice
  • La Colmena
  • LatinoJustice PRLDEF
  • Literacy Assistance Center
  • Long Beach Latino Civic Association
  • Metro New York Health Care for All
  • MinKwon Center for Community Action
  • Mixteca
  • National Network for Arab American Communities
  • Neighbors Link 
  • New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE)
  • New York Communities for Change
  • New York Taxi Workers Alliance 
  • NYC Brown Berets
  • NYC Coalition for Educational Justice 
  • NYCD 16-Indivisible Westchester
  • SEPA Mujer
  • United Farm Workers
  • United Neighborhood Houses 
  • Vel Xenon
  • Volunteers of Legal Service
  • Women's Empowerment Coalition of NYC
  • The Workers Circle