RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Governor Ralph Northam sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking for a pathway to citizenship for immigrant essential workers and their families.

In his letter, Northam told the President he was grateful for his leadership in helping ease significant burdens for Americans during the pandemic. However, he is now urging President Biden and his administration to aid immigrant essential workers and those who have qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

Granting this pathway to citizenship would lead to the integration of about 140,000 Virginia essential workers, including 2,700 essential workers who are qualified under the DACA program and 6,700 essential workers who have been granted TPS.

In the governor’s request, he said many of these essential workers are immigrants of color and play a critical role in the Commonwealth’s recovery from the pandemic.

“They are filling key positions within the health care industry and caring for and supporting the millions of Americans affected by COVID-19,” Northam said. “They are also serving as ‘frontline’ critical infrastructure workers during the pandemic beyond those in the healthcare industry, including agriculture, food services, transportation workers, caregivers and custodians.”

Gov. Northam said they stepped up during the national crisis but are still restricted from full integration based on their immigration status. He said granting citizenship to these essential workers would boost economic output, increase average wages, and raise the productivity of labor and of capital.