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Trump’s Relentless Anti-Immigrant Agenda: Not Just Cruel and Unpopular, But Actively Harming Our COVID-19 Response and Americans’ Health

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Next Round of COVID Relief Needs to Focus on Including and Protecting Immigrant Workers and Families Threatened By Trump

President Trump’s relentless anti-immigrant focus is not only cruel and politically unpopular but also is actively harming America’s health and unified response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From new details of how Trump’s visa ban has caused a doctor shortage to ongoing reminders that the work of hundreds of thousands of “essential” DACA and TPS workers are imperiled, the Trump and Stephen Miller nativist agenda is actively threatening our health and safety:

Trump’s Visa Ban Leads to Doctor Shortage: A new ProPublica story by Dara Lind, “Hospitals Are Suddenly Short of Young Doctors — Because of Trump’s Visa Ban,” notes:

As hospitals across the United States brace for a difficult six months — with the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic still raging and concerns about a second wave in the fall — some are acutely short-staffed because of an ill-timed change to immigration policy and its inconsistent implementation. A proclamation issued by President Donald Trump on June 22, barring the entry of most immigrants on work visas, came right as hospitals were expecting a new class of medical residents. Hundreds of young doctors were unable to start their residencies on time … As of 2017, there were 2,532 medical residents on H1-B visas, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association … At one New York City hospital serving low-income residents, nearly half the incoming class is still stuck abroad, multiple sources confirmed to ProPublica. One hospital in a large Midwestern city told ProPublica that “roughly half” of its first-year doctors started on time. In the Deep South, a region now overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases, a doctor who was set to start told ProPublica he was among 10 residents still awaiting visa approval as of early July.

TPS and DACA Workers: Essential for America, Imperiled By Trump: A Baltimore Sun story, “Maryland Sen. Van Hollen pushes for federal protection for immigrant workers during coronavirus pandemic,” highlights the story of Maryland TPS worker Óscar Cedillo, who has been working as a janitor at Kaiser Permanente clinics in Montgomery County, MD but whose future in the country has been imperiled by Trump and whose family has been left out of COVID relief packages thus far. “‘Cleaners are not highly paid to begin with, and now we are paying with our health and our lives to keep hospitals safe and clean for nurses, doctors and their patients,” Cedillo said.’ “Van Hollen is among the federal legislators pushing to support TPS holders like Cedillo and keep them in the country with a number of legislative fixes that have largely been stonewalled by the Republican-controlled Senate. Many of these workers have been considered essential during the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, there are more than 200,000 DACAmented workers in occupations deemed “essential” by the federal government, including nearly 30,000 DACA healthcare workers in frontline positions battling the pandemic. Instead of adding certainty to these Dreamers’ lives and re-opening the DACA program to new applicants following last month’s Supreme Court ruling, the Trump administration is instead in “open defiance of the law” and SCOTUS by refusing to reopen the program to all who are eligible. Instead, they are actively refusing to accept new applications while continuing to make noise about a new rescission memo or regulation seeking to end DACA.

USCIS Shutdown to Harm All of Us: The impending furloughs facing two-thirds of USCIS workers would have damaging implications on the country as a whole. As Ur Jaddou, Director of DHS Watch and former Chief Counsel of USCIS, recently noted: “The potential shutdown of USCIS would affect all of us – from doctors and other essential workers who would be unable to keep working and serving the country during the pandemic to Dreamers whose DACA renewals would be unable to process; from more delays and roadblocks for naturalization to the potential hard-hit local economies that would be affected in California, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, and Vermont by local furloughs at large USCIS offices. None of this needs to happen or should be blamed on the pandemic. This financial crisis at USCIS is the direct result of three and a half years of xenophobic Trump administration immigration policy that drove the agency into the ground and left it woefully unprepared to stay afloat during this pandemic. It’s now time for Congress to save USCIS from this administration and prevent President Trump from doing more damage in the future.”

According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice: 

The Trump nativist agenda has always been cruel, unpopular, and bad policy, but it’s now actively harming our national response to the pandemic and directly threatening many of the workers America is relying on and grateful towards. With the Senate set to debate the next relief package, Senators of both parties should work to secure the health and safety of all of us by ensuring the inclusion of immigrant workers and families threatened by Trump.