U.S. Senator Alex Padilla’s Legislation Offers Help to Undocumented Immigrants in Securing Green Card, and Guide Them through Citizenship Process

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By Claire Hsu

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Alex Padilla of California has authored new legislation he believes will advocate for immigrants, assisting undocumented immigrants in attaining a green card and jump-starting their citizenship process.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA, based in LA) said in a statement Friday the measure, SB 2606, has garnered the support of other key senators like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Dick Durbin.

AB 2606 revises the conditions of the 1929 Immigration Act, or the Registry Act, which required immigrants to demonstrate that they entered the U.S. before 1921 to procure a green card, initiating their journey to secure citizenship, details Spectrum News.

In 1986, the legislature passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which changed the statutory year from 1921 to 1972, reports the CHIRLA and Spectrum News.

SB 2606 is designed to improve immigration laws by making the green card and citizenship process more accessible and efficient, explains CHIRLA, noting more than 8 million people will be able to acquire a green card, including “Dreamers,” those with employment, and those whose parents are immigrants waiting to secure a green card and citizenship, writes Spectrum News.

Ursula, who immigrated from Guatemala, said in CHILRA’s release, “Despite paying taxes, working hard, and volunteering to make our communities better, we live in fear, limitations, anxiety, and broken dreams. Today’s bill gives me hope to a day when my family and I can live freely in a country I can truly call home.”

Statistical data composed by the Pew Research Center reveals almost 11 million immigrants in the U.S. are undocumented and over two million among these immigrants are “Dreamers,” children who entered the country subsequent to 1972, Spectrum News said.

According to the press release issued by Sen. Padilla’s Office on July 28, FWD.us reports that the United States could receive up to $121 billion and taxes that amount to around $35 billion by passing the bill, assisting undocumented immigrants in acquiring citizenship.

Undocumented immigrants have already committed to partaking in the obligations of citizens, Angelica Salas, CHILRA’s Executive Director, asserted.

Salas said, “The update today would allow millions of hardworking immigrants a path to permanent residency. People who have sacrificed for this country, have paid their taxes, call the US their home, and have set deep roots in this country deserve a pass to citizenship that provides dignity, liberty, and justice.”

Sen. Padilla is an active advocate for immigrant rights, objecting against conflicting immigrant legislations such as Proposition 187; as a child of immigrant parents, he said he strives to promote bills and laws that support immigrants in the citizenship process and makes an impact as an achieving Latino U.S. Senator for California, writes the Los Angeles Times.

Padilla’s earliest bill was the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, which aimed to assist undocumented essential workers, who worked during the pandemic to secure citizenship, details the Los Angeles Times.

By connecting his background with immigrants seeking citizenship today and reflecting on his struggles with other senators, Padilla emphasizes the importance of assisting undocumented immigrants in the citizenship process to benefit the U.S. market and ethical concerns, writes the Los Angeles Times.

Senator Padilla’s ambitions are apparent to his associates with many supporting and commending his efforts, Representative Tony Cárdenas states that “Alex Padilla doesn’t see immigration reform as a bill; he sees it as an opportunity for the United States of America to get right with itself,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

According to the Los Angeles Times, due to the ongoing concerns over how immigrants are treated at the border, many were pessimistic about immigration refinement laws being passed.

In 2021, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who supported a bill aimed to help “Dreamers,” expressed, “I think it’s going to be really hard to get a bipartisan bill put together on anything that has a legalization component until you stop the flow,” writes the Los Angeles Times.

It has become evident that passing immigration refinement laws is difficult in the United States, explains Spectrum News. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act and the American Dream and Promise Act, which both aimed to support undocumented immigrants, did not pass in the U.S. Senate, states Spectrum News.

Padilla asserts, “My bill would update the Registry cutoff date for the first time in more than 37 years or so… This would have a profound impact on millions of immigrants… by allowing them to live freely without the fear of an uncertain future.”

About The Author

Claire Hsu is an undergraduate student at UC Davis majoring in Political Science and minoring in Sociology. She is interested in policies related to advocating for API rights and prisoner's rights across California. After graduation, Claire plans on attending law school and pursuing a career in law. She is most passionate about criminal law and intellectual property law.

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