(WASHINGTON)—There are more than five million undocumented essential workers who have been a critical part of the U.S. COVID-19 response and deserve an expedited path to citizenship. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) supports the introduction of the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act and calls on both houses of Congress to ensure that no unnecessary bars and hurdles are put in the way of this path.  

“Undocumented immigrants are our health care providers, restaurant service workers, agricultural workers, grocery store employees, and provide many other essential services we rely on daily,” said ILRC Policy Attorney & Strategist Nithya Nathan-Pineau. “These workers have put their lives on the line every day as they go about their work. They deserve an expedited path to citizenship.” 

“The ILRC has called for legislation that provides relief for all immigrants, including those who have had contact with the criminal legal system,” Nathan-Pineau said. “While we welcome a pathway to citizenship, the pathway must be accessible to all members of our communities so all 11 million undocumented people without status can obtain work authorization, status, and a path to citizenship.”

The ILRC is supporting the New Way Forward Act which would end the criminal system to deportation pipeline, end mandatory detention and for-profit detention. The bill would also end local cooperation with ICE, and it would provide people who have been deported the opportunity to apply to come home. 

Immigrant communities nationwide have been organizing for decades to win immigration policies that embrace compassion, equality and respect for people’s rights. Polls show that there is overwhelming support to transform the immigration system and we will continue to work with our partners and coalitions in these endeavors.   


The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a national nonprofit that works with immigrants, community organizations, legal professionals, and policy makers to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through community education programs, legal training & technical assistance, and policy development & advocacy, the ILRC works to protect and defend the fundamental rights of immigrant families and communities.