RALEIGH (November 18, 2021) – The North Carolina Justice Center calls on Congress to include a pathway to citizenship in the Build Back Better Act and pass the act this year. In early November, lawmakers removed a pathway to citizenship for nearly 8 million immigrants from the bill and replaced the provision with a temporary program that would provide work permits and protection from deportation.

North Carolina is home to more than 330,000 undocumented immigrants, many of whom have put their lives on the line to support North Carolina’s economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. They labor in our tobacco, sweet potato, and strawberry fields; care for our children and senior citizens; and provide their skills in construction and building trades. Immigrants are our neighbors, co-workers, and valued members of our community who have already been laboring to build America back better. We must acknowledge this contribution by providing a path to citizenship.

Nearly 70 percent of voters across the political spectrum support a path to citizenship, but some members of Congress ignore and minimize the needs of immigrant communities. It has been 40 years since the last major immigration reform bill, and we cannot ask our communities to wait 40 years more.

“For far too long, our immigrant neighbors and community members have had to live in fear and uncertainty,” said Dan Melo, staff attorney with the Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project at the North Carolina Justice Center. “Four years under the Trump Administration devasted the immigrant community and it is time that members of Congress pass permanent protections for nearly 8 million people. We cannot accept another temporary and fragile protection program.”

We call on Congress to fulfill its promise to pass a pathway to citizenship for the millions of immigrants who have made this nation their home.