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Immigrant Groups Call on Congress to Pass Legalization through Budget Reconciliation Process


 Commentary: As negotiations continue on a federal infrastructure package in Washington, DC, 60 essential immigrant workers from eleven New Mexico counties joined U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Lujan on Wednesday at a virtual roundtable to share their experiences during the pandemic and the need for legalization through Congress’ budget reconciliation process. They also lauded the Senator for being a champion in the US Senate and with the Biden administration for a path to citizenship for millions of immigrant workers.

Approximately 68,000 immigrant New Mexicans fell through the cracks when it came to federal economic relief because of their family’s mixed immigration status, despite working for years in critical industries such as agriculture, oil and gas, hospitality, and home health care. They were unable to access stimulus checks and unemployment benefits and often were fearful of seeking out other economic supports because of  perceived immigration and “public charge” consequences. 

New Mexico-based immigrant groups Somos Un Pueblo Unido, NM CAFé and EL CENTRO de IGUALDAD Y DERECHOS hosted the roundtable with Senator Lujan and his staff stressing the need for legalization as an essential part of building New Mexico’s infrastructure and ensuring an inclusive economic recovery. 

Somos Un Pueblo Unido member Marlene Barrera, a restaurant worker and Farmington resident for 10 years, shared during the roundtable:
“We were all impacted by the pandemic yet we were left out of the federal economic relief programs despite working in our communities for years and paying taxes. Because of our immigration status, we were even afraid to access any of the emergency support in our own city.  We thank the Senator for championing immigration reform for essential workers. This is important so families like mine can keep contributing to rural economies without fear of deportation.”

NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fe - CAFe leader Alfonso Anguino, food distributor from Deming, NM, shared at the roundtable:

“At the beginning of this pandemic, my job was classified as essential, as I am a food distributor for local businesses and restaurants. I love my work and I continue to work through the pandemic, putting at risk my health and the health of my family. Because I do not qualify for healthcare or other assistance programs, my desire to provide and care for my family got even stronger. There are so many stories like mine in my community. I implore that you listen to our stories and our prayers, and help us create a pathway to citizenship for all essential workers.”

Lucy Hernandez, domestic worker and member of El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos in Albuquerque, lauded Senator Lujan’s leadership,“We are proud that immigrant workers have always helped power New Mexico's economy and that during the pandemic we continued to take care of the children and families of frontline workers. As a working mother and grandmother, I want to have the sense of safety that my family will not be separated and to have basic protections at work. After Trump's non-stop attacks, we deserve that the hope brought by President Biden's administration be translated into concrete action so that we have a path to citizenship. We thank the Senator for his leadership on immigration and the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.”