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ICYMI: TPS Holders in Limbo Face Termination of Immigration Status While Working on the Frontlines of COVID-19 Pandemic

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DCReport: “Women And Minorities Bear The Brunt Of Trump’s Pandemic Mishandling”

While the Trump administration continues to flounder in incompetence, immigrants, minorities, and women are hit the hardest by the government’s inability to provide safety, testing, and equipment for workers on the frontlines. In an article for DCReport, Joe Maniscalco highlights the plight of two Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders (among others), working on the frontlines to combat Coronavirus, all while this administration works to revoke their status and force them out of their homes in the US.

In the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic, the Trump administration still finds the cruelty to seek to take legal status away from longtime immigrants who are serving the US in the fight against Covid-19.

Maniscalco’s article is excerpted below and available online here.

Low-paid women and people of color across the country,  who were in dire economic straits long before the coronavirus crisis, are being pushed to the absolute brink. These marginalized workers are now essential foot soldiers on the front lines of the global pandemic, taking great risks for little reward.

Financial Worries

… Arcadio Mejia, a certified nursing assistant at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, is one of the 400,000 Temporary Protected Status [TPS] holders, the majority of them living in the United States for more than 20 years. They  could face deportation in January should the Trump administration succeed in terminating that program.

Mejia emigrated from El Salvador and has been on the job for 12 years. He worries about what will happen should he lose his Temporary Protected Status. He also fears his job caring for patients has exposed him to COVID-19, yet he can’t get tested.

Exposed But Still Working

“I was exposed to a COVID-19 patient and I’m still working,” he told me this week. “I asked my clinical coordinator and they told me if I don’t have any symptoms, they’re not going to do a test.”

That means that if Mejia is infected, he could be passing the virus on to others in the hospital, both patients being treated for other ailments, their visitors and healthcare professionals

After working extra hours at the hospital during the coronavirus outbreak, Mejia wonders why he also has to fear being deported in January.

“I have given so much to this country and the government makes me feel like a criminal,” he added. “Why is Trump continuing to take away my rights despite being a good citizen?”

Rena Rodriquez was a physician in her home country of El Salvador and now works as a health educator in North Carolina to support herself and two children. She, too, is experiencing the incredible stress of working without proper PPE and possibly being deported.

“I’m here to serve, I’m here to help the United States,” Rodriquez recently told reporters during an emergency teleconference with TPS holders. “We are exposing ourselves in this situation, we know about the risk — but we are still helping.”

Greg Kelley is the first African American to lead SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri & Kansas, — the largest local union in the Midwest. Indeed, he told me, COVID-19 is disproportionately pushing Black and Latino workers “to the brink.”

“Lower-wage workers historically have not been considered,” Kelley added. “[They have been] disregarded in a way that we, as a society, cannot allow to continue.”

But continue it does, with no shortage of elected officials wagging their fingers at Corporate America and urging them to do the right thing for workers.

Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey sent a stern missive to Vice President Mike Pence and FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor, imploring the federal government to “ensure that all frontline workers are valued and protected.”