Colorado lawmakers push for immigration reform in massive federal spending plan


DENVER (KDVR) — Lawmakers want the Biden administration to remember the immigrants they say fueled the nation’s workforce during the pandemic.

Standing firm on their push to make sure immigrants are included in all economic recovery legislation, 700 elected leaders signed a letter addressed to the president, the vice president and congressional leaders. In Colorado, 36 lawmakers are asking the president to provide a way in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill for immigrant workers to become citizens.

“If you have shown up and you did right by our country by providing essential work, we are going to treat you right by giving you that path to citizenship,” state Sen. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, said on Thursday. “We are talking about nurses, teachers, farm workers — people who worked those frontlines to keep our nation going.”

While the letter focuses on pathways to citizenship for immigrants that have lived in the U.S. for a while, the nation is gearing up to greet a new group of immigrants.

Refugees from Afghanistan are making their way into the U.S., leading the administration to ask for $6.5 billion in federal aid.

Immigration attorney Cash Fazal, who works with refugees, said she hopes the talks surrounding immigration will improve after seeing the positive response from the U.S. in its help for refugees.

“When the refugees do arrive, they will be issued work permits and social security numbers, so they will be contributing to society and paying taxes on that,” Fazal said. “So they’re just like anyone else because they will be given that identification. Maybe not all, but most should if they qualify for the relief they applied for. So I’m hoping that they settle for areas that are welcoming and open to this new migration period.”

The budget reconciliation measure is seeing opposition already. Some lawmakers say it costs too much money. Democrats are expected to try to garner enough votes for the bill before the end of next week.

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