Pramila Jayapal seeks path to citizenship for essential immigrant workers

Pramila Jayapal
Rep. Pramila Jayapal; American Bazaar file photo

Indian American lawmaker wants Biden to ensure immigrants get access to all of Covid-19 relief.

Pushing President Joe Biden to go further on progressive priorities, Indian American lawmaker Pramila Jayapal has sought a larger Covid-19 relief package with full access to immigrants and a path to citizenship for essential workers.

While overall Biden has done “really well” on progressive issues, he needs to do more on issues including student debt and Covid-19 relief, Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said at a Politico Playbook event Thursday.

Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package “should be the floor,” the first Indian American woman member of the US House said arguing the package should be between $3 and $4 trillion to meet Americans’ needs.

“If anything, we should strengthen it, not weaken it,” Jayapal said, outlining progressive priorities, including a $15 minimum wage, ensuring immigrants have access to “all of the relief” and a path to citizenship for essential workers.

Progressives Democrats have expressed skepticism that Biden’s calls for utility and bipartisanship on a coronavirus relief deal will bear legislative fruit, Politico noted.

READ: Pramila Jayapal demands reversal of Trump’s ‘xenophobic’ immigration policies (December 17, 2020)

“This is not a normal time. We’re trying to act like it’s normal,” Jayapal was quoted as saying.

“I have only limited tolerance for a Republican party that wrings its hands and talks about unity and moving forward. We had an insurrection where their leader of their party incited that insurrection and many of them continue to support him.”

Biden, Politico noted, has moved leftward since the beginning of his campaign, with Jayapal and other progressives pushing him to go further.

“We feel very good about where he’s started,” Jayapal said. “He’s gone a far way from when he started his campaign to where he is as president. I do think he understands the crises and the fact that this is a history-making time and a legacy-making time for him, and frankly for our country.”

READ: Pramila Jayapal elected chair of Congressional Progressive Caucus (December 10, 2020)

Jayapal was one of more than 50 House progressives, spearheaded by Democrat Ilhan Omar, who wrote a letter to Biden Thursday calling for recurring checks throughout the pandemic, according to Politico.

The third term Washington lawmaker also said Thursday she would send a letter Thursday alongside fellow Democrats Jimmy Gomez and Jason Crow saying that Biden’s move to end Department of Justice use of private prisons should extend to private immigration detention facilities.

Jayapal also said she’s pushing Biden to cancel student loan debt, a move she said the president is trying to determine whether he has the power to make.

She called Thursday for Congress to use budget reconciliation, a maneuver that could pass the bill with a simple majority, to pass a proposed $15 federal minimum wage if Republicans don’t get on board.

Jayapal told Politico all options should be on the table, including overruling the Senate members if they determine reconciliation isn’t the proper avenue for some legislation.



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