Immigrant Youth Tell Biden It’s Time to ‘Go Bold, Go Big, Go Now’ on a Pathway to Citizenship

Apr 29, 2021
4:26 PM

Photo via United We Dream

A contingent of immigration youth activists demonstrated on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., urging President Biden to immediately act on delivering a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented people—a priority he made on his first day in office.

The demonstrators came from the following advocacy organizations: United We Dream, ACLU of Idaho, Arizona Dream Act Coalition, Connecticut Students for a Dream (C4D), Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), Dream Action Oklahoma, KS/MO Dream Alliance, Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), and the National TPS Alliance.

The action happened hours before Biden spoke to a joint session of Congress, where he said the following about immigration on Wednesday night:

Immigration has always been essential to America. Let’s end our exhausting war over immigration. For more than 30 years, politicians have talked about immigration reform, and we’ve done nothing about it. It’s time to fix it.

On day one of my presidency, I kept my commitment and sent a comprehensive immigration bill to the United States Congress. If you believe we need to secure the border, pass it, because it has a lot of money for high-tech border security. If you believe in a pathway to citizenship, pass it so over 11 million undocumented folks—the vast majority are here overstaying visas. Pass it. We can actually—if you actually want to solve a problem, I’ve sent a bill to take a close look at it. 

We have to —also have to get at the root problem of why people are fleeing, particularly to— to our southern border from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador: the violence, the corruption, the gangs, and the political instability, hunger, hurricanes, earthquakes, natural disasters.

When I was President, my President—when I was Vice President, the President asked me to focus on providing the help needed to address the root causes of migration. And it helped keep people in their own countries instead of being forced to leave. The plan was working, but the last administration decided it was not worth it.

I’m restoring the program and asked Vice President Harris to lead our diplomatic effort to take care of this. I have absolute confidence she’ll get the job done.

Now, look, if you don’t like my plan, let’s at least pass what we all agree on. Congress needs to pass legislation this year to finally secure protection for DREAMers—the young people who have only known America as their home.

And permanent protection for immigrants who are here on temporary protected status who came from countries beset by manmade and natural-made violence and disaster.

As well as a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers who put food on our tables.

Look, immigrants have done so much for America during this pandemic and throughout our history. The country supports immigration reform. We should act. Let’s argue over it, let’s debate it, but let’s act.

Youth organizers said they will continue to hold Biden and Democrats accountable.

“For decades our people have waited for reform that never came. For decades we’ve been told by Democrats to wait until after the next election. No more promises, we need action. We are saying today with moral and political clarity: We see you, we will hold you accountable, deliver citizenship now,” Greisa Martinez Rosas of United We Dream said during the April 28 action.

After Biden’s speech on Wednesday night, Martínez Rosas added that “Democrats have a critical window of opportunity to create a pathway to citizenship with a 51 vote strategy. It is clear to us that Republicans will not negotiate in good faith and we cannot allow them to hold critical relief for our communities hostage. Citizenship is relief and we will not settle for anything less.”

“We hear President Biden when he says we’re a priority, and now we want to see that be reflected in what Congress passes into law. We’re turning up the pressure even more to tell President Biden and Democrats that we need citizenship now. Now is the time to go big and go bold for our communities by stopping all detentions and deportations and providing a broad pathway to citizenship for millions of people in the infrastructure package,” said Luz Chavez, Maryland Youth Organizer at United We Dream and a DACA recipient.