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Press Call: Texas TPS Holder Frontline Workers Discuss Their Roles in Combating Coronavirus While Under Threat from Trump Administration

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A recording of the call is available here

Earlier today, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders working on the frontlines of the Coronavirus pandemic in Texas joined immigration experts and advocates  to discuss their critical role in protecting Texas communities during this crisis even as the Trump administration is trying to deport them. In the midst of an unprecedented global health crisis, immigrants have shown up on the frontlines of battling this disease and continued to provide essential services in healthcare, food supply chain production, and sanitation among other areas. Instead of protecting their health and the best interest of the nation, the Trump administration continues to undermine the security of immigrants in this country and threaten essential immigrant workers with deportation. TPS holders spoke about their experiences on the frontline and the constant threat they are facing from the Trump administration. Despite their hard work and dedication to serving a nation in crisis, Trump is still focused on his anti-immigrant agenda.

Gerson Bonilla, Owner of HVAC System & Service company and TPS Holder, said “I own a refrigeration maintenance system and repair company, through which I employ 10 people including myself. Many of my employees are US citizens.  My company provides services to retirement homes and elderly care centers in Texas, we also maintain industrial refrigeration equipment where the food given to the elderly is kept. Thanks to the services I provide the elderly can live comfortably and in safe places and the staff can provide the needed care for all elders. Just thinking that I could be separated from my family is something terrible, the damage would not only be for me but for all my family, my workers who depend on me and the elderly in the retirement centers. With my work and dedication, I keep the city of Houston safe, I ask Congress to protect me now.”

Prem Limbu, TPS Holder and Adhikaar member, said, “Working at a gas station can be dangerous, as I come across a number of people everyday. I do worry that I might contract the virus. I know that continuing to work means that other essential workers are able to go to work. Healthcare workers rely on me to fill up their gas so they can go to the hospital. We need to work because the rest of Texas depends on us everyday to keep running and reach where we need to. My job is essential, and I am playing a significant role to serve this country and keep the pandemic economy moving. In this global crisis there are tens of thousands of TPS holders like me who are working in the front lines and facing so many challenges about their status and uncertainties about the future. We have to live and work everyday knowing our lives are being ignored and our families are being seperated.”

Juliana Figueroa, TPS Program Organizer, CRECEN-Houston, said “It is estimated that close to 50 thousand people with TPS live in Texas, they work in the construction, services, hospitality, healthcare, cleanin buildings, landscaping industries and are also small entrepreneurs. People with TPS are facing high levels of anxiety because after living for more than 25 or 30 years in Texas they could be forced to return to a country that offers them no opportunities or hope of survival. There is uncertainty about what will happen to their families, businesses, their properties, for those who are already reaching retirement age, fear is also great because they do not have a retirement plan in their countries. More than ever TPS holders deserve to be protected now.”

Mario Carrillo, Campaigns Manager, America’s Voice (Moderator), said, “In the midst of an unprecedented global health crisis, Texas TPS holders have remained part of the frontline response to combat the spread of the coronavirus in our state. In Texas alone, 20,700 TPS holders are working in occupations at the forefront of the COVID-19 response, and there are 11,600 working in healthcare occupations alone across the country. But the Trump administration is still trying to remove them from their communities despite their hard work and dedication to the country they call home, especially during this health crisis. They need relief, they need a pathway to citizenship, and Senator Cruz and Senator Cornyn need to step up and be advocates for the people who are keeping the Texas economy moving forward and keeping Texans safe. Instead, we’ve seen republicans continue to lean into the President’s anti-immigrant messaging and rhetoric to fire up their base ahead of an election, but we’re calling on republican lawmakers to recognize the vital contributions of potential TPS workers.”