Poleth Farfan, 22, kicked off a rally with hundreds of undocumented essential workers, gathering together with one hope: citizenship.

Farfan, her two siblings and both parents are undocumented immigrants from Mexico. They’ve lived in the city since 2008.

Farfan’s mother is a housekeeper in the city. Her father is a farm worker. Both were unable to attend the rally because they had to go to work, just like they did every day throughout the pandemic.

"It is very frustrating to work and do all these things for this country and not receive some benefits back," she said.

Farfan and hundreds of other undocumented essential workers marched though Lower Manhattan and across the Manhattan Bridge to call on Congress to pass immigration reform. They said after risking their health and continuing to show up to work during the worst of the pandemic, they deserve a clear path to citizenship.

“The time is now to act. We can’t wait any longer,” said Anu Joshi, the vice President of Policy at New York Immigration Coalition. “We know that we need President Biden and Sen. Schumer right here in New York to show real leadership and insure a path to citizenship is included in whatever bill needed to pass Congress.” 

Recently, Senate Democrats announced that their infrastructure package would include a pathway to citizenship, but a court decision against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program makes their cause all the more urgent.  The Obama-era program gives certain people brought here illegally as children temporary permission to live and work, and now, no new people can apply.

Demonstrators say they want a pathway to citizenship for DACA beneficiaries, the 5 million undocumented essential workers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients.

“Sometimes, you feel like giving up, but then I remember why my parents brought me here, all the struggle they faced to bring me here. It keeps me going to think one day things might change,” Farfan said.

Farfan said she knows her parents are essential, but she just wants them to not be deportable.