Support for the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021
By Teresa Dreyfuss, Superintendent/President, and Rosaelva Lomeli, Trustee Board President
Río Hondo College
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
HR 1177, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, was introduced by Congresswoman Linda Sánchez to fix a dysfunctional immigration system, expedite family reunification, and facilitate border management. With California Community Colleges Undocumented Student Action Week scheduled for October 18-22, it is important for our colleges to support this bill.
Our immigration system has been broken for many years. This bill creates a pathway for citizenship for immigrants, eliminates “three-and-ten-year bars,” which has kept families apart, and allows immigrants with approved family-sponsorship petitions to join their family in the U.S. on a temporary basis while waiting for green cards.
We are pleased that this bill is inclusive of all types of families who are impacted by our current immigration system. The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 eliminates discrimination against LGBTQ+ families by permitting citizens and legal permanent residents in binational, same-sex relationships to sponsor their permanent partners for immigration to the U.S. and to serve as qualifying relatives for other immigration benefits and purposes. The bill also protects orphans, widows, and children, and provides equal treatment to stepchildren in case there is death of a sponsor. These provisions will benefit our students at Río Hondo College who come from families in these circumstances.
In the spring 2021 semester, more than 1,200 students enrolled at Río Hondo College identified as immigrants. Under our Board’s leadership, Río Hondo College has engaged in a concerted effort to provide resources and services to our UndocuScholars, DREAMers, and DACA-mented students. Our faculty, staff, and administrators have collaborated to ensure our scholars have access to the resources and services they need to be successful. Our staff has worked hard to create a welcoming campus climate by removing institutional barriers to their success.
At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic – and the ongoing COVID-19 variants – has widened opportunity and equity gaps for vulnerable student groups, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 will help bring stability to immigrant families. Beyond providing a stable pathway to citizenship, this bill also provides a road map for DREAMers, undocumented students, DACA-mented students and their families to contribute to our local community and nation for many years to come.
Teresa Dreyfuss serves as Superintendent/President for Río Hondo College and has worked for the college in various roles since 1987.
Rosaelva Lomeli was elected to the Río Hondo Community College District Board of Trustees in November 2018. She represents Area 3, which includes Whittier and South El Monte.