“Our undocumented workforce risks exposure each day on our collective behalf, while they are simultaneously denied economic relief and shut out of our health-care system.”
In a new must read op-ed in the Washington Post, Laurene Powell Jobs, founder and president of Emerson Collective, makes the case for why we must keep DACA in place during the global Coronavirus pandemic. Even beyond the current crisis, undocumented immigrants and Dreamers are essential members of the our society and workforce. She concludes, “Breaking America’s promise to dreamers…and leaving undocumented immigrants to fend for themselves would be callous and cruel to some of the very people helping the rest of us weather this crisis.”
Jobs’ op-ed is excerpted below and available online here.
Jirayut Latthivongskorn is waiting for the hospital’s beds to fill up.
A family and community doctor, he is part of a team of medical professionals at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. But Latthivongskorn, who goes by New, is more than a health-care worker on the front lines of the covid-19 pandemic. He’s also a “dreamer” — a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. When New was 9, his family moved from Thailand to the Bay Area, where he became the first undocumented graduate of the University of California at San Francisco medical school.
… The role of these health-care workers — and more than 200,000 other dreamers in occupations deemed essential — underscores the stakes of the Supreme Court’s imminent decision on DACA. It also highlights a largely unrecognized failure of the administration’s slow response to this pandemic: that the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States have been left to confront this pandemic without support from the federal government.
Most of these immigrants, a largely invisible engine of U.S. industry, have lived here for more than a decade. They help to care for our sick; they raise our children; they grow, deliver and prepare our daily sustenance. They live in our communities, attending schools and religious services and giving of themselves so that their children and our country have a brighter future. Yet they have been explicitly carved out of our national response to the coronavirus.
Undocumented immigrants and their families, including more than 5 million children who are U.S. citizens, were left out of the disaster relief package enacted last month. They are ineligible for direct subsidies despite being overrepresented in the service industries and informal economic sectors ravaged by the pandemic.
… It is a cruel irony that undocumented workers represent most of the labor force in industries that have been deemed essential, such as agriculture, requiring these immigrants to continue working to feed the Americans sheltering at home across the country. Think about that: Our undocumented workforce risks exposure each day on our collective behalf, while they are simultaneously denied economic relief and shut out of our health-care system.
… Breaking America’s promise to dreamers such as [Latthivongskorn] and leaving undocumented immigrants to fend for themselves would be callous and cruel to some of the very people helping the rest of us weather this crisis. It would also be a profoundly myopic error in judgment that endangers the health and well-being of us all.