November 18, 2021

Reps. Castro and Escobar Join Immigration Advocates For Press Conference on the Need to Pass the Build Back Better Act to Deliver Protection to Millions of Immigrants

Washington, DC –Today, Reps. Joaquin Castro (TX-20) and Veronica Escobar (TX-16) joined immigration advocates at a press conference at the House Triangle on Capitol Hill to urge the passage of the Build Back Better Act and its protections for millions of Dreamers, TPS Holders, farm workers, essential workers, and other undocumented immigrants. The event was held as House Democrats move closer to voting on the reconciliation bill.

“The immigration provisions in The Build Back Better Act will accelerate our economic recovery and protect the millions of undocumented immigrants that have lived, worked, and contributed to American society for decades,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20). “They are entrepreneurs, innovators, consumers, essential workers, and much more – who power our economy and create employment opportunities for all Americans. Congress must meet this moment, pass the Build Back Better Act, and deliver for immigrants as they have so often delivered for us.”

“Last year, we celebrated the essential workforce during the dark days of the pandemic—and they asked for very little in return. In fact the only thing they asked was for a fighting chance to have meaningful protections, to have a path to citizenship, to be Americans,” said Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16). “The time has come for us to pay our debt. We owe these workers a tremendous debt of gratitude. The Build Back Better Act would allow these workers to be able to get to work every day without fear of retaliation and to be able to live without fear of deportation. It’s up to Congress to get this done.”

“For two decades, I have worked as a farm worker harvesting food for the nation and for many of us. A work and travel permit means having the security of working without fear, and traveling to our native country and being able to return,” said Guillermo Garcia, an undocumented farm worker originally from El Salvador. He is a UFW Foundation leader and proud UFW union member who has spent two decades harvesting produce for American tables. “It would improve our economy and we would be safe with our families. It’s time essential workers like me can work without fear of being deported and separated from our families. We know that Congress can protect farm workers by passing the Build Back Better legislation with immigration protections this year and they must act.”

“This government considers me an essential worker because I make sure that offices here in Washington, D.C. are clean so working families are healthy and protected against COVID-19,” said María Ana Vásquez, SEIU-32BJ member and essential worker. “Because of the chemicals that I use to disinfect surfaces against the virus, my hands are dry, so dry that my fingerprints are almost non-existent. The chemicals also triggered headaches and dizziness. My hands hurt; I live in pain. I have sacrificed so much, including my own health. There were some days I thought I wasn’t going to make it to work, but I found the strength and showed up. I know I’m doing important work—I’m protecting working families against the coronavirus including, perhaps, many of you here.”

“I’m ready to give back to this country, but that can only happen when we deliver on protections for people like me,” said Julio Calderon, a Dreamer in Miami, Florida who never qualified for protections under the DACA program because he arrived in the U.S. just 30 days after his 16th birthday. He has a final order of removal.  “This plan must include the opportunity we have been waiting for to finally let go of the uncertainty of deportation. I want to be able to apply to the job I want with the degree I earned. I want to travel back to Honduras to see the family members I haven’t seen for 16 years.”

“If Build Back Better passes with immigration protections and benefits, I could obtain a work permit and live with more security and relief--things I have lacked during this pandemic,” said Amparo Gonsalez de Portillo, a domestic and essential worker from Virginia and member of National Domestic Workers Alliance. With the passing of this bill, millions of immigrants would have opportunities like seeing their loved ones back home. With the political will of Congress, we have the power to provide real relief with protections against deportation and more of a guarantee of our labor rights and real hope about a better future. We are placing our faith and our lives in your hands.”

You can view a full recording of today’s press conference here.