From agricultural workers to healthcare professionals, immigrant workers are again proving themselves as an indispensable, skilled part of our national effort to combat and contain COVID-19 – despite ongoing anxieties over their immigration status and being largely excluded from economic stimulus and stabilization efforts thus far.
But as Wall Street Journal columnist (and former Reagan speechwriter) Peggy Noonan wrote, “you have seen who’s delivering the food, stocking the shelves, running the hospital ward, holding your hand when you’re on the ventilator. It is the newest Americans, immigrants, and some are here illegally. They worked through an epidemic and kept America.” As Noonan calls for, after the worst is over, we should extend an offer of citizenship to these workers, “With a note printed on top: ‘With thanks from a grateful nation.’”
Below are continued examples of observers’ taking notice of how immigrants are an essential part of our nation, always and in particular at this moment:
- In a must read New York Times op-ed, “What Happens if America’s 2.5 Million Farmworkers Get Sick?” Greg Asbed, founder of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida, notes “Farmworkers have been designated essential workers — no food workers, no food. This puts farmworkers in an awful bind: They can’t afford to get sick by going to work, and they can’t afford to lose their jobs by not working…The message to our country’s farmworkers is unmistakable: While your labor is essential, you are expendable. That is wrong, both morally and for our nation’s food security…Farmworker leaders with our organization are creating and safely distributing multilingual educational materials, while many growers who participate in our Fair Food Program are taking significant measures to keep workers safe.”
- The LA Times uplifts the “Foreign doctors on front lines of COVID-19 fear deportation from U.S.” highlighting frontlines workers, “‘There is a real possibility that once I’m done with this process, not only [may I not] have a job; I may be an illegal immigrant in a country where I’m sweating it out every day in the hospital…The last thing I want to think about is prioritizing my visa status when there’s so much else to be done…It’s actually terrifying when I think about the fact that I’ve invested so many years of my life here…. [I could] have no job security, no security of where we live.”
- As DACA recipients anxiously await a Supreme Court decision, The Guardian focuses on the Dreamers on the frontline working in healthcare, noting “Daca has allowed more than 3,000 registered nurses, almost 5,000 nursing and home health aides and about 4,000 medical assistants to enter their professions, among other healthcare fields, CAP [Center for American Progress] found.‘I can only imagine what that must feel like, to be putting your life literally on the line for a country, and for the wellbeing of the residents of a country, that isn’t, hasn’t decided whether you’re gonna be allowed to stay there,’ said Julia Gelatt, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute.”
- In a Brookings Institution blog, “Don’t forget to thank immigrants, too,” Senior Fellow Dany Bahar marks the importance of the immigrants in all industries on the frontlines, “Hopefully, after all this is over, we’ll remember that immigrants played a big role in helping humanity overcome this crisis. More importantly, I hope that politicians will act accordingly, too. First, by stopping the toxic and unfounded rhetoric against immigration altogether. Then, by easing the significant regulations and hurdles that make it so difficult for hardworking immigrants—professionals, entrepreneurs, and fundamental workers alike—to live where they know they can put their skills to use and thus contribute to society as a whole.”