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Experts Respond to Trump’s Failure to Address Pandemic and His Efforts to Harm Immigrant Communities

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A recording of the call is available here

Earlier today, immigration experts gathered on a press call to discuss the ramifications following Trump’s failed attempts to address the nation’s public concerns in this unprecedented crisis. During this time of uncertainty, rather than providing the nation with solutions, Trump has again vilified immigrants in order to shift blame, responsibility and criticism. The Pandemic in many ways is uniquely impacting immigrants and Trump’s xenophobic agenda is only putting vulnerable immigrant communities and the public at large in further danger. 

Eleanor Acer, Senior Director for Refugee Protection, Human Rights First, said “The Trump administration’s plans to shut the border to men, women and children seeking asylum will only endanger more lives. So too will its failure to parole in to safety asylum seekers turned back to danger under its Remain in Mexico policy. The United States has the ability to both save the lives of people seeking refuge and protect their health and the public health. Decisions relating to COVID-19 should be driven by science and public health expertise; not by the Trump administration’s long-standing agenda of closing the border to men, women and children seeking asylum.

Silky Shah, Executive Director, Detention Watch Network, said “Lives are already at risk in immigration detention, and with the spread of coronavirus, people are sitting ducks in a system notorious for its fatally flawed medical care. Over 3,000 medical professionals and nearly 800 organizations from across the country are ringing the alarm bell to say: release people from detention now. We must prioritize taxpayer dollars for expanding treatment and critical resources for healthcare workers rather than the targeting and detaining of immigrants which puts our collective health at risk.”  

Kerri Talbot, Director of Federal Advocacy, Immigratiuon Hub, said ““Instead of focusing on solutions to combat the spread of Coronavirus, Trump wants to distract the American public from his own failures and point the blame at immigrants. It is critical that all families, regardless of immigration status, are included in the comprehensive approach to combat this pandemic.”

Sanaa Abrar, Advocacy Director, United We Dream, said “As communities across the country and the world are facing the public health crisis of COVID-19, DACA recipients face the added anxiety of not knowing if or when they’ll be able to renew their protections from deportation. DACA recipients shouldn’t have to worry about if they’ll lose their health care, or their source of income if they aren’t able to renew their work permits. United We Dream is demanding that Trump and the Department of Homeland Security automatically renew DACA permits expiring in 2020.  We are also demanding the Trump administration withdraw their DACA case at the Supreme Court during a pandemic crisis that is further endangering all of our communities.”

Dr. Ranit Mishori, Senior Medical Advisor, Physicians for Human Rights (and Professor of Family Medicine, Georgetown University School of Medicine), said “Across the country, officials have made the difficult – but necessary – public health decision to close high-density settings like schools, college campuses, government buildings, cultural institutions, sports arenas. The same strategy should apply to immigration detention facilities, where there is no ability to social distance or self-quarantine. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. Acting now will protect the health and human rights of detained immigrants, facility staff, and the broader public.”

Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center, said “We live in interdependent communities, and at the center of our community response is the understanding that our personal well-being is intertwined with that of our neighbors, many of whom are immigrants on the frontlines of the response to this crisis. In these difficult times, our leaders must ensure that everyone, no matter where we’re from or how much money we make, has access to the resources necessary to mitigate the harmful impacts of this global pandemic. Policymakers at all levels of government should focus on what’s in all of our best interest so that we can come out of this much sooner and more resilient. We should end harmful policies such as the pernicious public charge regulation, and instead create inclusive and comprehensive policies that allow everyone to get the care they need. We need healthy, safe, and thriving communities, which requires that policymakers guarantee that all policy responses are completely inclusive of all of our community members.”