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Pence Praises Workers The Administration Wants to Deport

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Frank Sharry: “Mike Pence’s gauzy spin does not drive the administration’s hardline policies toward immigrants; Trump and Stephen Miller do.”

Yesterday, Yamiche Alcindor of PBS Newshour referenced the nearly 30,000 healthcare workers who have DACA while asking Vice President Mike Pence:

Is the administration in any way ready to protect them if the ruling comes in your favor and takes the protection out, and they can no longer work in the health field as they’re needed right now?

In a filibuster of a response, Vice President Pence lavished praise on the essential workers, while sidestepping the brutal fact that the Trump administration is trying to deport these very same workers. Said Pence:

I think the President has been very clear on his desire to reach a solution on that issue with the Congress. But let me — let me say, whether it be healthcare workers or people working in food supply, other people working in critical infrastructure, we’re — we’re incredibly inspired by the way people across this country are stepping up to keep — keep healthcare rolling and available, a high quality of care, even in areas deeply impacted by the coronavirus. 

And also, as we said the other day, hard working people in our food supply, from the farmers to processors, to distributors, to truck drivers, to grocers …  the dedication of people to continue to work is — is truly inspiring. And I know, as we go forward, we’ll — we’ll work through a broad range of national issues. But we’re going to be incredibly proud for a long time by the way that people all across this country responded to this moment.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

In the midst of a lethal pandemic, all of us are thankful for the essential workers who are risking their lives to save ours. Many are immigrants, many are undocumented. But thanks to the Trump-Pence administration, these essential workers live in daily fear of being deported. They may be ‘inspiring’ as Pence says; they are also in the administration’s crosshairs.  

The administration has ended DACA and TPS in an effort to put some one million undocumented immigrants with temporary work permits on a path to deportations. The administration keeps the dangerous and relentless detention and deportation machine running at full tilt. The administration, with help from its enablers in Congress, has done everything possible to scare immigrants away from seeking testing and treatment. 

If Vice-President Pence and the Trump administration really want to celebrate immigrant workers doing essential work, they should withdraw their assault on DACA and TPS in the courts, and automatically renew work permits. If Pence and Trump really want to praise these essential workers, they would be looking for ways to expand the number of undocumented immigrants eligible for work permits so they can take their minds off avoiding ICE and keep their focus on conquering COVID-19. If Pence and Trump really wanted to bring our country together, with no one left behind and no one left out, they would include rather than exclude immigrants in the next Congressional rescue package.

We have too much experience with this administration to fall for pretty words. This is an administration that consistently demonizes immigrants and acts cruelly, all in the service of juicing turnout and clinging to power. Mike Pence’s gauzy spin does not drive the administration’s hardline policies toward immigrants; Trump and Stephen Miller do.

Below are more reminders of the essential role Dreamers and other immigrants are playing at this moment, despite the relentless efforts from the Trump administration and their allies to minimize and scapegoat these same individuals:

  • An ABC News story by Armando Garcia, “DACA health care workers worry about their status amid coronavirus pandemic,” spotlights the stories of several DACAmented doctors, nurses, medical students, and first responders and quotes Matthew Shick, the Association of American Medical Colleges’ senior director of government relations: “While state and local governments and hospitals are actively seeking to recruit more providers, we really need to do everything to keep the ones that we already have on the ground. I think it’s a testament for those that have already completed their education and training and are choosing a profession in the health space where they’re giving back to society that now even with the risk of potentially losing their work authorization and their DACA status in the next three months, they’re still at the front lines risking their lives to treat those patients and address this pandemic.”
  • A Houston Chronicle op-ed by congressional candidate Sima Ladjevardian, “DACA health care workers needed to fight coronavirus,” notes the contributions of DACA healthcare and first responders such as Houston area paramedic Jesus Contreras and notes that, “we should all be alarmed at the prospect that tens of thousands of critical health care workers could be taken out of commission, not by the virus, but by reckless Washington politics.”
  • Miriam Jordan and Caitlin Dickerson write for the New York Times,Poultry Worker’s Death Highlights Spread of Coronavirus in Meat Plants,” noting the heavy concentration of immigrants in the meatpacking workforce. The piece quotes Jose Aguilar, a Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union representative in Alabama, noting that immigrant workers have been left out of the COVID-19 government response: “For the immigrant population, it’s really sad because right now, there are a lot of people who don’t have a choice. Almost everybody is going to work because they need money.”