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TPS Holder Frontline Workers Discuss Fighting Pandemic While Trump Tries to Deport Them

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Earlier today, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders on the frontline of battling the COVID-19 pandemic joined Representative and CHC Chairman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) and Rocio Sáenz, Executive Vice President of the  Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to discuss their critical roles in protecting our communities during this crisis even as the Trump administration is trying to end TPS and make them deportable. Despite the fact that TPS holders are risking their lives for the good of the country in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis, the Trump administration is still pursuing policies that would deport them back to dangerous conditions and potentially separate them from their families – putting the security of American families and communities at risk.

Representative Joaquin Castro (TX-20) and CHC Chairman, said, “This public health crisis has exposed just how many vulnerable workers are contributing significantly to our nation. Essential workers are still showing up every day of this crisis, but lack the support and security they need. As more data emerges, it’s clear they might suffer the grunt of this crisis. We need to do more to provide adequate help to immigrants; our federal government must recognize the contributions of TPS workers and provide them with the support they need during this time. Our nation will be stronger in recovery if we refuse to leave them behind now.”

Reina Rodriguez, TPS Holder, Public Health Educator in Winston Salem, NC, said, “TPS holders will support this nation to keep standing, pandemic or not. I am risking it all for my community and this country, but the President is trying to get rid of me. I call this country my home and will continue to support the people that need me here- whether that be family, the sick, or those in my community.”

Arcadio Mejia, Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) & member of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), said, “During this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, I have been faced with being a frontline worker. I have been asked to work extra hours — putting myself at risk and my family at risk. I know, it will only be a matter of time until I am exposed as I care for COVID-19 patients. I am anxious and afraid every day of this pandemic and on top of this, there is the stress of my TPS status that the government is taking away. A status I have had since 2003. I have given so much to this country, yet, they make me feel like a criminal and as if I do not belong here. I ask myself why does Trump continue to take away my rights and why does he want to deport me?.” 

Rocío Sáenz, Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said, “The 400,000 TPS holders in America are our friends, our family and our neighbors. They are people who risked their lives and left their homes for the American dream and the Trump administration has left them with a cloud of uncertainty with its attempts to pursue policies that would deport them. But they are standing on the frontlines — TPS holders are maintenance, cleaning and healthcare workers combating coronavirus. They are the most vulnerable and if they are deported, they will have no one else to keep them alive. They keep the economy humming and taking away the millions of dollars they contribute could be a death blow. We are calling on the administration to protect TPS holders and include free testing and coverage for them during this crisis. SEIU will continue to fight for everyone’s protection during COVID-19, regardless of immigration status.