San Jose’s undocumented community urges Biden-Harris administration for all-inclusive immigration reform

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — On Inauguration Day, undocumented families and a group of immigrant rights organizations came together in San Jose denouncing President Joe Biden’s immigration plan. 

The “Legalization for All” campaign mobilized a “Caravan for Justice” rally and press conference demanding President Biden “for no more broken promises from the Democratic Party” and calling his immigration plan “incomplete.”

“We want that [immigration reform] immediately especially because they [undocumented immigrants] have been affected by COVID-19, they don’t get the stimulus check, and they don’t get anything, but they are essential workers,” said Gabriel Manrique, community organizer for Latinos Unidos for a New America (LUNA).

“Immigrants here especially undocumented immigrants they contribute to local, state and federal income taxes.”

Under Biden’s plan, lawful permanent residents status will only be granted to TPS and DACA recipients.

Community organizers say the proposed legislation leaves out 10 million undocumented indivduals and families, most of whom are essential workers. 

Individuals living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card as long as they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfill other basic requirements. 

From there, another three years for naturalization if individuals decide to pursue citizenship. 

“A lot of people think it’s easy just like come the legal way but our immigration laws are broken,” said Manrique.

“There’s people here living in the United States for more than 30 or 40 years and are not able to become a legal resident,” Manrique added. 

“I think it is time for this new administration to fix that.”

In Santa Clara County, data shows the coronavirus pandemic is infecting and killing Latino residents at an alarmingly high rate with over 50% reported cases coming from Latino households.

East San Jose has some of the highest rates of confirmed cases in the county as community organizations continue to work to get as many undocumented residents tested for COVID-19.

Organizers say Biden’s immigration plan is unjust and a human rights violation because it requires essential workers and their families to wait years for immediate permanent protections during the global coronavirus pandemic. 

“A lot of undocumented people lost their jobs, they’re not receiving the stimulus checks because they don’t qualify for it unfortunately because they don’t have a social security number,” said Manrique.

“So they’re not receiving any help at all.” 

Migrant families and 40 immigrants rights organizations are demanding an immediate legalization for all undocumented people without divisions or exclusions. 

“We work with the Latino immigrant community and they do work hard. They’re the people who are cleaning our houses, our yards, they’re our janitors, construction workers, so they do contribute a lot especially to the Silicon Valley,” said Manrique.

“A lot of our immigrant community work in different corporations … essential work that a lot of people don’t want to do,” Manrique added. 

“I think it’s time for them to benefit from that.”

San Jose resident Anastasia Abarca tells KRON4 News she’s been attempting to become a U.S. citizen for the last 15 years but to no avail. 

She now urges newly-elected President Biden to hear the needs of the millions of undocumented individuals and pass an all-inclusive immigration reform plan. 

Translation: Spanish to English

“To listen to us. That we want legalization for everyone, that they don’t divide us anymore because right now what they want is to divide us again. They want to give the Dreamers first and it’s fine but it’s doing division again,” said Abarca.

“Because for all the undocumented remains can wait many years,” Abarca added. 

“It’s a lot for us because we do not know what will happen during those five years.”

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