Harris’s Senate Replacement’s First Bill: Pathway to Citizenship for Illegal Alien ‘Essential Workers’

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla talks about voting rights and announces new voter registration numbers Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
AP Photo/Eric Risberg

As the discussion over President Joe Biden’s open border immigration policies heats up, at least one Democrat Senator wants to go even farther than allowing tens of thousands of illegal aliens into the country based on asylum claims.

Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA), who took Kamala Harris’s Senate seat, wants to give millions of illegal aliens a pathway to citizenship if they are deemed “essential workers.”

That wish is now in the form of a bill, the first Padilla has unveiled since taking his seat. Padilla told the San Francisco Chronicle:

I think nothing speaks to the moment more than COVID response and fairness for essential workers. On a parallel track, we know that immigration reform is long overdue in the United States of America and there are no states that have more at stake in immigration reform than the state of California.

“A standalone measure allows us to uplift specific elements of a comprehensive package as you continue to gain momentum and support,” Padilla said.

The Chronicle reported on Padilla’s motivation:

In an interview, Padilla said his Citizenship for Essential Workers Act was an easy choice for his first piece of legislation as a senator on a personal and policy level. He noted his Mexican immigrant parents spent four decades working in the service industry — his father as a short-order cook and his mom cleaning houses. Padilla is the first Latino senator from California and one of only a handful in the Senate, and he has already used that position to voice concerns of the Latino community in Washington.

On its own, it’s virtually impossible the bill would become law. The legislation would apply to some legally present immigrants and undocumented immigrants alike, providing an immediate opportunity to start the naturalization process for an estimated 5 million or more people who work in more than a dozen essential industries, including health care, agriculture, service, child care and manufacturing. But the legislation is emblematic of how Padilla hopes to shape the perpetual debate on immigration as it unfolds in coming months.

On December 22, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Padilla to succeed Harris. Padilla served in the California State Senate for the 20th district from 2006 to 2014.

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