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Those Who Have Helped America Through Their Essential Work Should Be Recognized As Fully American

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“The COVID-19 crisis…will serve as the clearest and most cogent argument for immigration reform that puts millions of people on a path to citizenship.”


On Wednesday, September 23 at 2:00 pm ET, the House Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee will convene for a hearing on Immigrants as Essential Workers During COVID-19. Led by Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Vice-Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), the Subcommittee will hear from witnesses who include a farm worker and DACA recipient and experts on immigrants in the workforce.

The following is a statement by Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:

When all is said and done, the COVID-19 crisis in America will serve as the clearest and most cogent argument for immigration reform that puts millions of people on a path to citizenship. It has never been clearer that the health and well-being of any family is dependent on the health and well-being of all families. My health and my neighbor’s health and the health and well-being of my entire community are connected. Because we are all interconnected, the law must catch up with reality so that those who work, raise families and participate in our American experience must be allowed to participate fully and completely.

The moral argument for opening legal status and citizenship to immigrants is compelling. Regardless of their immigration status, those who have sacrificed and worked hard during the COVID-19 crisis – shoulder to shoulder with other Americans – deserve to be recognized as the Americans they already are, with all of the rights and responsibilities that implies. Indeed, the responsibilities of serving this country have already been shouldered by immigrants and refugees and their hard work. Immigrants, people of color and other working class Americans have been over-represented in essential fields to keep us healthy, safe and fed and they have been vastly over-represented in who has fallen ill or died from COVID-19. 

The American people are more united and clearer in their support for immigrants and immigration than any time in recent history. President Trump’s policies – the cruel and intentional separation of children from their families, the obsession with diverting resources to the border wall to line the pockets of wealthy donors and his sustained efforts to take legal status away from Dreamers and TPS holders who are deeply rooted members of our communities – has hurt the anti-immigrant cause that Donald Trump has led.

After President Trump and his anti-immigrant allies are no longer an obstacle and the country turns its attention to how we recover from the traumatic Trump years, America will be ready to heal. An essential part of that healing will be to reformulate our immigration system so that those who work can do so legally, those who come for essential work can come here legally, and those who are part of our communities can participate fully.  

We owe a great deal to every American who has survived COVID-19 and the Trump presidency and we should proceed by recognizing those for whom we have denied or withheld citizenship and recognize our neighbors fully as our fellow Americans.