The 2020 Immigrant Rights Strategy

 

The Most Pressing Issues of the Immigrant Community

 

The immigrant community in Michigan is facing long-standing needs in Detroit and Grand Rapids that have only been exacerbated by the COVID 19 crisis. We have broken down the needs in two priorities, Needs During the COVID 19 Crisis and Needs Beyond the COVID 19 Crisis

 

Needs During The COVID 19 Crisis:

The immigrant rights team called our allied organizations that work with diverse immigrant constituencies and hosted 2 justice assemblies and 2 strategy meetings in Detroit and Grand Rapids to reassess the most urgent needs of the immigrant communities in Michigan during this health crisis. These are the main concerns that came about in order of priority:

 

  • Financial Insecurity: Undocumented immigrants have the inability to work due to social distancing but can only secure food on the table if they work and expose themselves and others to COVID 19. The overwhelming concern that came up in every meeting and every call was first and foremost, financial insecurity. Our partners organizations and our own members that are undocumented were very worried about whether or not they will be able to put food on the table in the coming weeks. They are also worried about paying utility bills and rent, especially those who are undocumented and laid off. 

Even with the governor’s moratorium on evictions, many immigrants are not aware about this moratorium and those who are are still worried that they will be evicted before they have time to get financially stable once the moratorium is lifted. Official information about resources or food banks is not reaching the immigrant community in the language they can understand.

    • In Grand Rapids, tenants were defying the governor’s executive order and showing little sympathy with comments like, “you should have been prepared [to pay rent by having money saved].” There is fear of getting evicted even during the crisis. 

    • In metro Detroit, people are unaware of the moratorium on water shut offs or how to get their water reconnected..

Everyone was concerned about undocumented immigrants being left out of the Federal Relief Bills: Undocumented communites will not qualify for unemployment, or even the rebate checks. Even mixed status families will not qualify for the rebate if one person in the family is undocumented. 

 

  • Medical Treatment: The undocumented immigrant community is afraid of being turned away from hospitals or clinics if they seek treatment. Undocumented immigrants only qualify for emergency medicaid, some have health insurance through work, but the majority are uninsured. The Federal COVID 19 relief bill does not mandate that emergency medicaid cover the cost of testing or treatment, and even those who are insured will still have to pay copays. Even though by law, hospitals are required to provide treatment to the uninsured if they need to be hospitalized, these uninsured patients will be hit with hefty bills after treatment. Additionally, life saving information in Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, French and other languages spoken by immigrants in Michigan is not available and the little information that is available is not reaching the communities that need it. People are unaware about where they can go for medical help or what steps they should take if they feel sick. 

 

  • Enforcement: Undocumented immigrants are afraid of being detained by ICE when driving to get health treatment, to work or even the grocery store. Even immigrants that are considered essential for the sustainment of life, such as grocery store workers and food processing workers are afraid of driving to work, and those who are laid off are afraid of driving to the grocery store. The governor has not issued clarifications about how to enforce the shelter in place order, especially when law-enforcement comes in contct with undocumented immigrants going to the hospital, the grocery store or work. To make matters worse, ICE is still detaining immigrants and detention centers are overcrowded.

Across the state, the lack of official information from the governor and municipal governments in a timely manner in different languages, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, and French, is exacerbating the problem by keeping non-english proficient immigrants unaware of imminent dangers or urgent relief available. These communities are being confused by information that they are receiving from other states or countries that may not apply to them or is unreliable.

 

Needs Beyond the COVID 19 Crisis:

Beyond the COVID 19 crisis, there are many needs that the immigrant community has had and will continue to have even when things return to normal. 

    • Local Policies:

      • Affordable legal services for immigrants in deportation proceedings and for non-urgent applications that can add layers of protection to immigrants

      • Non-collaboration policies prohibiting ICE Detainers and collaboration between local law enforcement and ICE or Border Patrol

      • Investment in the needs of immigrant communities, such as Adult ESL, job training, etc.

    • State Policies: 

      • Drivers licenses for immigrants regardless of immigration status. 

      • Non-collaboration policies prohibiting ICE Detainers and collaboration between local law enforcement and ICE or Border Patrol 

      • Investment in the needs of immigrant communities, such as Adult ESL, job training, etc.

      • If DACA is rescinded, local colleges and universities will need new Tuition Equality policies that allow undocumented students to afford college.

    • Federal Policies: 

      • A Compassionate Immigration Reform that re-unites separated families, stops the separation of families in the future and has a pathway to full citizenship will remain a top priority.

      • Passing the DREAM Act, especially if DACA is rescinded.

      • Defunding ICE and closing detention centers.

      • If legislation fails, taking executive actions to mitigate the damage to the immigrant community will be essential, such as:

        • Expanding DACA and DAPA

        • Cancelling detention contracts with all private prison companies 

 

 

The Three Priorities of the 2020 IR Strategy

 

The Immigrant Rights Team has broken down the strategy into three parts in order of urgency: During the COVID 19 Crisis, Before the 2020 Elections and Beyond the 2020 Elections.

 

During The COVID 19 Crisis:

  • Local focus:

    • Ask the local government to improve access to information in Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, French & other languages. Share information about the severity of the virus, healthcare resources, and other relevant resources in a timely manner and in these languages.

    • Ask the local police chief and County sheriff to stop enforcing ICE detainers and prohibit officers from turning immigrants over to ICE during traffic stops, at least during the duration of the crisis.

    • Survey local clinics that serve uninsured immigrants about:

      • Their needs during this crisis 

      • What capacity do they have to do testing and non-urgent treatment of COVID 19 

      • If federal and state grants are made available to test and treat uninsured immigrants, would they have the capacity and willingness to do it? 

    • Invite immigrants to the MBA Leadership training to get familiar with our Theory of change, strategy and tactics.

 

  • State focus:

    • Executive Orders:

      • Request executive order from Governor Whitmer prohibiting state police from asking about immigration status and enforcing ICE detainers at least during the duration of the crisis to ease people’s fears from being pulled over. 

      • Request the governor for an expansion to the moratorium on evictions 

    • Budget Appropriations:

      • Request state grants for clinics and hospitals to test and treat the uninsured free of charge regardless of immigration status. 

      • Request state grants for food banks, churches, mosques and temples to be able to provide food assistance to members of their communities regardless of immigrstion status

    • Legislation:

      • Support the Anti-Price Gouging bills since low income immigrants are especially hurt by high prices

      • Support the Paid Sick leave bills and urge legislators to ensure that the final language of the bills allow all workers to benefit regardless of immigration status

      • Ask legislators to amend unemployment insurance requirements and allow undocumetned immigrants to be able to receive unemployment benefits even if it's only during the duration of the crisis or if they must provide ITIN number

 

  • Federal focus:

    • Put pressure in the 4th Federal funding bill to make sure the immigrants community’s priorities get included. We need to make a decision on the next meeting. The issues being considered include:

      • Unemployment insurance benefits even if it's only during the duration of the crisis

      • Rebate checks

      • The DREAM Act

      • Releasing immigrants from detention and creating ICE, CBP oversight and budget limitations.

 

Before The 2020 Elections:

  • Local focus:

    • Grand Rapids: 

      • Offer Civic Education training to leaders who feel ignored by elected officials with focus on our world view, strategy, tactics and movement politics. 

      • Schedule 2-3 issue education meetings with local elected officials and candidates challenging them in the primaries. These meetings will also serve to hold them accountable for their actions towards the immigrant community during the health crisis, (ex. Mayor, chief of police, sheriff)

    • Metro Detroit: 

      • Offer Civic Education training to leaders who feel ignored by elected officials with focus on our world view, strategy, tactics and movement politics. 

      • Schedule 2-3 issue education meetings with local elected officials and candidates challenging them in the primaries. These meetings will also serve to hold them accountable for their actions towards the immigrant community during the health crisis. 

  • State: 

    • Schedule 2-3 issue education meetings with state elected officials and candidates challenging them in the primaries. These meetings will also serve to hold them accountable for their actions towards the immigrant community during the health crisis.  (ex. Rep. Tommy Brann, Governor, Director of State Troopers) 

    • If SCOTUS ends DACA shift our efforts to get Instate tuition in Michigan and allocate state funds for scholarships for undocumented students. Meet with 3-5 candidates for the board of governors for the universities and demand they support these efforts.

  • Federal:

    • Schedule 2-3 issue education meetings with federal elected officials and candidates challenging them in the primaries. These meetings will also serve to hold them accountable for their actions towards the immigrant community during the health crisis. 

      • Senator Stabenow

      • Senator Peters

      • Rep. Amash

      • Rep. Slotkin

      • Rep. Stevens

      • Rep. Lawrence

      • Rep. Tlaib

      • Rep. Dingell

 

After The 2020 Elections:

  • Local: Begin evaluating what are the main local needs that impact the immigrant community and need to be addressed during the 2021 local elections:

    • Grand Rapids:

    • Metro Detroit: 

      • Macomb: 1. Reliable public transport, 2. Pro-bono attorneys, 3. Healthcare grants for clinics that treat uninsured immigrants

      • Washtenaw: 1. Reliable public transportation, 2. Healthcare grants for uninsured immigrants 3. Affordable housing for undocumented immigrants.

      • Wayne: 1. Healthcare grants 2. Pro-bono attorneys

  • State:

    • Continue pushing for a drivers licenses for immigrants.

    • Continue pushing for legislation that limits collaboration between police and ICE or CBP.

    • Continue pushing for appropriations for immigrant integration (ex. Adult ESL, citizenship, legal representation).  

  • Federal

    • Plan A: Identify the main executive actions and pieces of legislation that we would like the next president to prioritize.

    • Plan B: Identify the main challenges if we have the same president.

 

Next Steps: 

Detroit Core Team Meetings:

  • Tentative dates:

    • June 18: 6-7 PM

    • July 9: 6-7 PM

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