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Lawmakers Must Protect Immigrant Families During This Pandemic

(Photo courtesy Sean Valentine, Pexels)

Executive order distracts from inability to protect workers

President Trump’s latest Executive Order yet again uses racism to advance his political goals. Trump claims that in order to prevent new COVID-19 cases he plans to halt all immigration to the US for 60 days. However, this new Immigrant Ban would mostly impact family based immigration and does nothing to protect American workers or their health.

According to immigration attorney Richard Kessler, “This order completely bars many family members of U.S. citizens from obtaining a green card (Legal Permanent Residency) and reuniting with their loved ones in the U.S. This is an attempt to circumvent Congress and alter family based immigration using the pandemic as an excuse.”

Economic experts believe this executive order will not protect American Workers. "This is a scary and deeply frightening time,” said Steve Tobocman, Executive Director of Global Detroit, a Detroit based organization that represents the interests of small businesses. “We should first be focused on the health and safety of everyone and we can't scapegoat our way out of a global pandemic, but need to address the crisis through cooperation and compassion. America's economy is going through a shock and will need a period of recovery. We need to focus on helping our economy access the workforce it needs so that businesses can thrive. We need to help American and immigrant families get the food, care and services they need to thrive. We need to help American communities to come together to work collectively to protect our health and our well-being."

Medical professionals believe that instead, the president needs to expand testing to finally get a grip on the scope of the spread of the virus. He needs to coordinate distribution of personal protective equipment rather than compete with states trying to supply their hospitals. The former executive director of Detroit’s department of health, Abdual El-Sayed said that, “Even as immigrants help lead the fight on the front lines against COVID19, Donald Trump is banning immigrants. Worse, these policies perpetuate fear and stigma that keep people away from the resources they need in a crisis. Rather than an agenda of public health, which he has failed, Donald Trump is leading an agenda of division and hatred. Right now, we need Coronavirus tests, not immigrant bans.”

These advocacy groups are calling on Congress and the President to include protections for immigrant families in the next federal relief packet. They must ensure that mixed-Status families that pay taxes using a personal Tax ID Numbers receive stimulus checks. After all, undocumented immigrants pay billions in taxes every year and receive little to no benefits. They must expand access to testing and treatment for COVID-19 under Emergency Medicaid, regardless of immigration status. The virus does not discriminate. It infects everyone. Congress shouldn’t discriminate either.

“We are essential workers. We are putting our life at risk to feed Americans,” said Jazmine Lomeli, who is a DACA recipient and works at a grocery store in Detroit. “Every day I am afraid of going to work and coming back home exposing my children to the virus. On top of that, I have to worry about losing my DACA work permit.” She is one of the immigrants impacted by another executive decision by President Trump to end the DACA program in 2017.

“We come today asking for immigrants to be included in the next federal relief package," said Oscar Castaneda, a community organizer with Action of Greater Lansing. “These are very simple, very common sense solutions that are extremely small in comparison to the size of the full relief package, yet they would be a tremendous help to the immigrant community and will benefit all Americans after all.”

“While COVID 19 is terrible, we stand at a place in history where greatness is a golden opportunity,” said Rev. Dr. Marcia Ledford from Political Theology Matters LLC. “America can be great by recognizing every human being as worthy of care and restoration. We can choose to care for all of our neighbors regardless of immigration status or anything else. From a faith-based perspective, religions across the globe have a deeply held tenet to care for our neighbors. Christians call this the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And, we have a secular moral duty to care for one another, especially in a worldwide, contagious pandemic"

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