ACLU Statement on House Passage of the Build Back Better Act

November 19, 2021 2:00 pm

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act today, which includes historic investments in home and community-based services, includes provisions to provide legal status to immigrants living in the United States, and protects sacred Indigenous lands at Oak Flat.

Below is a statement from Naureen Shah, senior policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, regarding the immigration provisions included House-passed package:

“Senate leadership needs to act urgently to ensure passage of the strongest possible legal protections for our loved ones, neighbors, and co-workers who came to the U.S. as immigrants.

“If Congress does not pass immigration reform measures this year, millions of people will be forced to continue to live in fear of deportation. People who’ve built lives, homes, families in our communities and contribute to our country should have full legal protections.

“Even as they’ve served as essential workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, their undocumented status has made them vulnerable to discrimination and exploitation by employers refusing to pay their wages and respect their rights as workers. Congress has a clear mandate to finally deliver legal protections for these individuals.”

Below is a statement from Julie Sweet, deputy national political director at the American Civil Liberties Union, regarding the home and community-based services, paid leave, and Oak Flat provisions included in the House-passed package:

“The passage of the Build Back Better Act moves forward policies that will make our union more perfect for people with disabilities and Indigenous communities. We are pleased Congress has passed this historic first step to expand home and community-based services for those with disabilities and aging Americans, while ensuring expanded pay and protections for home care workers, predominately Black and Brown women. This bill expands eligibility for home and community-based services for millions and protects the civil liberties of our communities by ameliorating the history of segregating people with disabilities in institutions, which the Supreme Court ruled over two decades ago violates federal disability rights laws.

“We also applaud the inclusion of four weeks of paid family and medical leave. By not guaranteeing paid sick and family leave to workers, millions of people face the false choice of choosing between work — or caring for themselves or a family member. This failure has exacerbated racial, gender, and economic inequalities — as the lowest-paid quarter of the workforce, a majority of whom are Black and Latinx workers, have significantly less access to paid leave. While we still have much more work to do universally expand such leave, the Build Back Better legislation takes us a step closer to addressing this appalling gap.

“Through another critical provision passed today, Congress put protections in place for Oak Flat in Arizona — sacred land to several Tribes in the Southwest — that will prevent Indigenous ancestral homelands from being exploited by a copper mining project. As we celebrate today, we also know more work is needed for our country to fully address the injustices created by centuries of systemic inequality. We urge the Senate to act quickly to send this bill to President Biden’s desk and look forward to continuing to work with Congress and the Biden administration to build upon this historic bill.”

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