“Immigrants shouldn’t have to risk their lives for citizenship. But it’s telling that for the US even doing that isn’t enough,” immigration nonprofit said.
Immigrants are an essential part of the United States. They contribute to the country’s economic growth and provide rich culture to the fabric of the nation. It has been during the pandemic that their vitalness has been needed more than ever. Because of their service and jobs as frontline workers, the government in France is now doing something for them.
Just before Christmas, France announced that they would fast-track citizenship applications from foreign frontline workers. Some of those immigrants seeking French citizenship work as health professionals, housekeepers, cashiers, and nannies.
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France implemented the citizenship initiative in September. It was then that at least 700 immigrants in France, who had been exposed to COVID-19 because of their work, were put on a fast track for naturalization.
On Dec. 22, the French government said in a statement, “In accordance with the commitment made by Madame Marlène Schiappa, Minister Delegate to the Minister of the Interior, responsible for citizenship, to facilitate the naturalization of foreign workers on the front line in the face of the health crisis, 2,890 applications were submitted to the prefecture across the country. The files are currently under review. To date, 74 people have acquired French nationality and 693 are in the process of obtaining it.”
As news broke about this kind gesture from France to immigrant frontline workers, people in the United States discussed the difference in how the American government approaches essential immigrant workers here.
“The US treats essential workers as disposable, but the incoming administration and congress have the power to change this,” Cristina Jiménez, co-founder of United We Dream and United We Dream Action, tweeted. “We can also give citizenship to immigrants risking their lives: farmworkers, medical workers, domestic workers, meatpacking workers, etc.”
In recent months, the Trump administration expedited the deportation of immigrants by not providing a trial. There’s also a massive backlog of citizenship applications.
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RAICES, a nonprofit organization that provides legal help to undocumented immigrants, said that the Biden administration should follow France’s steps and provide citizenship to essential workers.
“Immigrants shouldn’t have to risk their lives for citizenship. Full stop,” the nonprofit tweeted. “But it’s telling that for the US even doing that isn’t enough. Instead, frontline immigrant workers are still being arrested & fast-tracked for deportation or ICE detention. Take note @JoeBiden.”
The last time France expedited an immigrant’s citizenship application was in September 2018 when Mamoudou Gassama, a migrant from Mali, helped save a 4-year-old boy who was hanging from a balcony.
“Foreign workers gave their time and swung into action for all of us during the Covid crisis,” said Schiappa, according to The New York Times. “It is now up to the Republic to take a step toward them.”