Affected individuals and groups continue to demand the Biden administration and Democrats fulfill their promise to deliver legalization, on Wednesday installing hundreds of enlarged green cards in front of the U.S. Capitol. The 400 placards, which read in part “United States of America Permanent Resident,” symbolized 400,000 Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and families who need permanent relief. Among the speakers was Sitar Llama, who said he was representing nearly 15,000 Nepali TPS holders “whose lives are on the line.”
“I was not able to see my kids grow up. My wife and I have lived apart for 20 years,” he said in a press release received by Daily Kos. “I work very hard 11-hour shifts, but I cannot get a promotion without a green card. The White House and Congress make our lives hard by not giving us citizenship.”
Immigrants and advocates with the Communities United for Status and Protection (CUSP) collaborative effort stressed that a united Democratic front does have the power to bring permanent relief not just to Llama and other TPS holders but to millions of immigrants. Even though there’s precedent for passing immigration provisions through reconciliation, Senate staffer and parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has rejected Democrats’ proposals twice.
But as Daily Kos’ David Nir and many others have repeatedly noted, and I’ll continue to repeat, her opinion is non-binding. It’s not at all a ruling, and Democrats can overrule it. And they should, TPS holders and advocates said on Wednesday.
“You have come to our communities. You have made promises. Vice President Harris and Democratic leadership, enough is enough,” Haitian Bridge Alliance Executive Director Guerline Jozef said in the press release. Without permanent relief, immigrants will remain in limbo—and at the whim of future racist policies. “Our lives are not temporary. We demand citizenship for all those behind me, for all those hiding under the cloud of fear,” Jozef continued.
CUSP said in a release earlier this week that TPS holders have in particular played a critical part in helping the nation recover from the pandemic, with almost one-third of TPS holders “employed in essential occupations, and have kept America safe and healthy. As our public health crisis continues, TPS holders will remain essential to the nation’s economic recovery from one of its darkest moments.”
”Over 80% of TPS holders are employed, having paid about $4.6 billion in taxes,” CUSP continued. “Altogether, they’re expected to contribute over $164 billion to the GDP over the next decade.” They’re certainly doing their part. Leaders must also do their part, and keep their campaign promises.
“Nothing and no one should stand in the way of [Democratic] leadership delivering their campaign promise: citizenship,” said Patrice Lawrence, Executive Director of UndocuBlack Network. Other organizations in the CUSP effort include African Communities Together, Adhikaar, and the National Network for Arab American Communities. “Biden-Harris must now do their part and ensure that there is permanent residency legislation in the reconciliation package and that it becomes law.”
“Our communities cannot afford to wait for another election cycle for green cards,” Lawrence said earlier this week. “We have fought via lawsuits, rallies, and held on to temporary status by a thread. TPS Holders, undocumented people have been keeping the country afloat during a deadly global pandemic and fighting through four years of constant attacks from the Trump administration. Biden-Harris must now do their part and ensure that there is permanent residency legislation in the reconciliation package and that it becomes law. Democrats have the Senate majority and it is time to show the country that they can be trusted to truly lead.”