BY JOSÉ ARNULFO CABRERA | August 13, 2021
In the early hours of Thursday morning, the Senate passed a $3.5 budget resolution. This budget blueprint invests in families, climate, health care, infrastructure, and jobs. Among those investments, there is, additionally, language to create a pathway to citizenship. Next week, the House will return from the August recess to vote for the resolution, as well. After the House vote, the Senate will utilize the budget resolution to prepare the budget reconciliation package. If everything goes according to plan, in early October, both the Senate and House will vote for the budget reconciliation package. It will include language that will create a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, TPS holders, farmworkers, and essential workers.
I won’t sugarcoat it. It won’t be easy, and there is no guarantee. Pro-immigration advocates have even created plans B, C, D, and I think even E if a pathway to citizenship isn’t included in the budget reconciliation package. You might be wondering—why are we doing this, then? The sobering reality is that Congress can’t work out a standalone bipartisan deal on a bill that will create a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Earlier this year, I wrote about eight total bills that would create a pathway to citizenship; four in the Senate and four in the House. In March, the House passed the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R.6) and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R.1603). Each piece of legislation would create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS holders, and undocumented farmworkers, respectively. Yet the Senate Democrats struggle to get the total 60 votes needed to pass any of the four bills. In the budget reconciliation package, the legislation will only need a majority vote to pass.
My mom has cleaned houses for the majority of my life. When I was young, she would take me with her in the summers. One home she cleaned had an old vacuum. It would break all the time and my mom would have to find a way to fix it. One day when my mom took me with her, the vacuum broke while I was using it. I told my mom and she said, “fix it.” I spent an hour trying to fix it but had no luck, and I left it broken. When my mom noticed she yelled at me and said, “Eres un mexicano y nosotros siempre encontramos nuestra maña!”—“You’re a Mexican. We always find our trick.” (Maña is a Spanish slang word that I couldn’t find a good English translation for, so the best one I can think of is trick. I am sure someone will say I’m wrong!) Life can be like an old broken vacuum, and you could spend hours trying to fix it. But you can’t give up. You must keep working on it until you find your maña (trick). I’ve spent most of my life working towards a pathway to citizenship for my undocumented community. We can’t just give up because some Senators don’t have the moral courage. We must find our maña in passing a pathway to citizenship.
In the upcoming weeks, as the Senate prepares the budget reconciliation package, we need you to take action by telling your Senators to support upcoming legislation that will create a pathway to citizenship! Call every day! Tweet at them! And make sure you have signed our action alert. You will also find a sample tweet and call script you can use when contacting your Senator in the action alert.
José Arnulfo Cabrera is the director of education and advocacy for migration for the Ignatian Solidarity Network. He is a 2018 graduate of Xavier University, a DACA recipient, and an immigration activist. He previously worked with the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he provided training on lobbying, organizing, and immigration policy, as well as shared his own immigration story, and as a government relations associate with NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice in Washington, D.C.