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“With Thanks from a Grateful Nation” 

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More Recognition of Essential Contributions of Immigrants in Our Time of Crisis

More observers and leading voices are recognizing that immigrants’ contributions to Covid-19 response and containment efforts are essential. We’re all in this fight together and all of us should be grateful for immigrants at this moment. Among the key voices:

  • New York Times op-ed from hospital leaders on DACAmented healthcare workers: “Allowing DACA’s termination would undermine the extraordinary measures being applied by states, universities, hospitals and private institutions across the nation to address the critical shortage of health care workers…If the Supreme Court allows the termination of DACA during this pandemic, the work of our hospitals will suffer a critical blow at exactly the moment when we can least afford it.”
  • A HuffPost story by Rowaida Abdelaziz titled, “‘I’m Proud Of Myself’: Refugee Nurse On The Frontlines Of COVID-19 tells the story of Menuka Dhungana, a nurse in Ohio and former Bhutanese-Nepali refugee who received asylum in America in 2009. As Dhungana notes: “‘I’m proud of myself and all the other nurses and doctors … I don’t feel any different being a refugee and compared to somebody who was born in this nation. Every one of us is the same when it comes to taking care of patients.”
  • A Washington Post piece by GlobalVoices reporter Ishaan Tharoor, “Migrants are the unsung heroes of the pandemic,”notes that despite some across the world using the current moment to call for crackdowns and restrictions of foreigners, “you can argue that migrants are the unsung, front-line heroes of the pandemic. From hospitals to farmlands, migrants are providing vital labor to keep societies afloat. They are also society’s most vulnerable people — see the scenes of rural migrants being forced by lockdowns to walk hundreds of miles home from India’s major cities. Elsewhere, their absence has deepened the sense of crisis. My colleagues reported earlier this week on the troubles European countries are facing now that border closures and travel bans have deprived them of the migratory labor on which their agricultural sectors depend.”
  • A story in Axios, “Immigrants on the front lines in the coronavirus fight,” highlights research from New American Economy (NAE) on the essential role of immigrant workers at this moment: “Immigrants make up an estimated 17% of the overall U.S. workforce. But … they’re more than one in four doctors, nearly half the nation’s taxi drivers and chauffeurs and a clear majority of farm workers … Reporting to work in hospitals, restaurant kitchens, cabs or the fields — for jobs deemed ‘essential’ by the government — many documented and undocumented workers are putting themselves at higher risk of COVID-19 infections.”
  • In The New York Times, Lisa Lerer and Jenny Medina team up for the piece, “The Other Front-Line Workers,” highlighting the contributions of unsung – and often undocumented – workers on the frontlines of Covid-19 response. They tell the story through the lens of a former nanny and now hospital cleaner named Ezzie Dominguez, who is “a member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, an association for nannies, caregivers and house cleaners” (whose membership includes many undocumented immigrants).
  • “With Thanks from a Grateful Nation” – Wall Street Journal columnist (and former Reagan speechwriter) Peggy Noonan makes the case for providing citizenship for the many undocumented immigrants working on the frontlines, writing: 

you have seen who’s delivering the food, stocking the shelves, running the hospital ward, holding your hand when you’re on the ventilator. It is the newest Americans, immigrants, and some are here illegally. They worked through an epidemic and kept America going. Some in the immigration debate have argued, ‘They have to demonstrate they deserve citizenship’—they need to pay punitive fines, jump through hoops. ‘They need to earn it.’

Ladies and gentlemen, look around. They did.

Here is where the debate is going. When it’s over, if you can show in any way you worked through the great pandemic of ’20, you will be given American citizenship. With a note printed on top: ‘With thanks from a grateful nation.’