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How Immigrants Are Essential To The Country’s Response To COVID-19 Crisis

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Immigrants continue to prove that they play a crucial role in supporting our economy, our public health and our society as a whole as our national capacity is stretched to respond to this once in a century crisis. As we have previously highlighted, the United States relies on immigrants now more than ever and additional voices are weighing in to underscore that we are indebted to the sacrifices and hard work that immigrants contribute.  

Below are more reminders, findings and commentary that point out the indispensable role of immigrants. 

  • Washington Post editorial, “Thousands of health-care workers are at risk of being deported. Trump could save them:” The Post editorial states, “Some 27,000 dreamers are health-care workers; some…are on the front lines, grappling with a deadly pandemic. They are doctors, nurses, intensive care unit staff and EMTs trained to respond quickly to accidents, traumas and an array of other urgent medical needs… Until now, because of DACA, they have been shielded from deportation and allowed to work legally. Their time may be running out….Thousands of…health-care workers would lose their work permits and jobs, and face the threat of deportation. So would another 700,000 DACA recipients — food prep workers, teachers and tutors, government employees, and students, including those enrolled in medical programs. That would be catastrophic, and not just for the dreamers themselves…It would also be catastrophic for the United States.”
  • In a Vox article titled, “The US needs foreign doctors and nurses to fight coronavirus. Immigration policy isn’t helping,” writer Nicole Narea hits on the shortage of doctors and nurses in this crisis and the critical need for immigrants at this time noting, “The US health system already relies heavily on immigrants, who make up 17 percent of all healthcare workers and more than one in four doctors. At a time when coronavirus is pushing states like Washington and New York to the limits of their resources, those health care workers will be all the more critical.”
  • In a must-read Washington Post op-ed titled, During the covid-19 pandemic, immigrant farmworkers are heroes,” Eladio Bobadilla, an assistant professor at University of Kentucky, notes, “…farmworkers — the vast majority immigrants — who continue to work, often in poor conditions, to ensure America won’t go hungry. As the nation reels from the economic shock induced by the pandemic and by the economic disruptions it will continue to cause, immigrant farmworkers are sustaining us. They deserve economic support, worker protections and our gratitude…”
  • Teresa Romero, President of United Farm Workers of America (UFW) said on an America’s Voice press call last Friday: “Farm workers are uniquely vulnerable in the pandemic because of the cramped, substandard and unsanitary conditions in which most must live, commute and work. We all must do more during this crisis to protect their health and safety. That is why we are calling on agricultural employers to take meaningful and concrete steps, from extended sick leave and mandatory workplace safety plans to easy access to health services and covering farm workers under state and federal benefits since at least half are undocumented. Unlike farm workers, other employees listed as essential—such as health professionals and grocery store workers—are covered under America’s labor and social protective laws such as minimum wages, overtime pay and the right to organize.”