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US Sen. Alex Padilla pushes to grant 5 million undocumented workers 'long overdue' citizenship

Mathew Miranda, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in News & Features

Padilla’s legislation would also include non-citizen workers who worked in essential industries but lost employment because of the pandemic or relatives of an essential worker who died from COVID-19.

Currently, there is no timeline for the potential pathway. Padilla would work with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for implementation if the bill passes. Applicants would need to pay the fee to apply and pass the typical background checks.

This will be the second time Padilla attempts to pass the immigration reform bill. His first piece of legislation as a senator also aimed to provide citizenship for essential workers. He has emerged as a stalwart voice on immigration since becoming California’s first Latino U.S. senator in 2021.

Padilla’s push for an immigrant-friendly policy comes at a time when some states are trying to push away undocumented residents.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation this month mandating that businesses with 25 or more employees to use the federal E-verify system to check the immigration status of new employees and mandates hospitals to ask patients about their legal status. It also allows authorities to charge someone with human trafficking if they “knowingly” or “willingly” transport an undocumented immigrant across state lines into Florida. Videos on social media show the new law is leading to worker shortages.

But in California, some lawmakers are continuing a decades-long campaign to build a social safety net for the state’s roughly 2.3 million undocumented immigrants.


State Sen. Anna Caballero, a Democrat, has recently introduced SB 831 which would authorize the California governor to work with the federal government to establish a pilot program allowing agricultural workers to start a process toward legal status.

Although the bill lacks specifics, the ultimate goal is to make undocumented farmworkers eligible for federal benefits.

Similar, less aggressive legislation has failed in the past. But Caballero’s bill marks yet another attempt to speed up immigration reform in the Golden State.

Ramirez is hopeful of the latest efforts by lawmakers, even if she often thinks her work in the fields is overlooked by most. She described sometimes feeling forgotten by lawmakers and overlooked people that benefit from the food she helps put on their tables. her work in the fields.

“We are the ones who keep working regardless and we would have a better job, better way of living, and many benefits that we do not have right now if they just think of us a little bit,” Ramirez said.

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