Immigration advocates in New York over the last four years faced a pitched battle with President Donald Trump’s administation’s policies and rhetoric from the top on down.
Now with President Joe Biden’s administration far more sympathetic to their goals, advocates say a lot of work is needed in both Washington and in Albany.
The new Biden administration in the first week is already undoing the immigration policy of the last administration, like ending the ban on travel from predominantly Muslim countries and placing a 100-day moratorium on deportations.
“Those are all good signs and things that we have requested to ensure our communities are safer,” said Eddie Taveras, the New York immigration director at FWD.Us.
But broader immigration changes, like a path to citizenship for millions of people who have made their home in America, will take legislative action in a narrowly divided Congress. Taveras cheered the advancing of Biden’s proposal, which lays out an eight-year path to citizenship for 11 million people, including 4.5 million people living in New York.
“I expect Senator Schumer, Majority Leader Schumer, to use all the tools available to adhere to the promise he made not just to the nation, but to New Yorkers,” Taveras said.
And New York lawmakers are being pushed to do more on the issue as well. Angeles Solis of Make the Road New York says undocumented communities need access to the vaccine and pandemic aid that was provided to workers who lost their jobs because of the COVID crisis, as well as strengthened tenent protections.
“The same people working so hard to deliver food to our essential workers in hospitals, to take care of our children, to clean homes in offices, those front line workers are excluded from the support they need to survive this crisis,” she said.
And to pay for it, Solis says lawmakers must make taxing the rich a priority.
“Right now, we’re living in two New Yorks,” Solis said. “We’re living in a New York where the multi-millionaires and the elite who have never profited more because of the pandemic and on the other side of the store we have New Yorkers who are killing themselves to provide for our communities and provide for each other and have nothing to survive in this pandemic.