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Immigration Law

Coronavirus Pandemic Exposes Injustice of US Immigration System

Kevin Appleby, May 4, 2020

"The coronavirus pandemic has challenged many commonly-held perceptions about the United States.  We have learned we are not invincible, for one, and are not always the best prepared in responding to crises.  We also have an inequitable health-care system, as we lack the medical resources to care for everyone and too many in our country remain without health-care coverage.

The other inconvenient truth that the pandemic has revealed is the injustice of our immigration system; we depend upon the labor of immigrants but scapegoat them as the cause of our problems.

... Moving forward, advocates are seeking the inclusion of several policies in a potential fourth COVID-19 legislative package, including, among other items, 1) giving all immigrant communities access to Medicaid coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment, at a minimum; 2) providing direct cash payments to all immigrant families and to all who file taxes with an ITIN; 3) extending work authorization for special populations, including DACA and TPS recipients; 4) funding ORR to provide COVID-19 support to refugees and unaccompanied children populations; 5) a resumption of refugee resettlement and a reallocation of refugee admissions to meet the FY 2020 refugee goal of 18,000; and 6) clarify that all refugees, including those who arrived in 2019 and 2020, are eligible for direct cash payments. Congressional Democrats have already signaled an intent to work for support to be included for DACA, TPS, undocumented immigrants, and other vulnerable populations in the next coronavirus bill.

Over the long-term, Congress must return to the pursuit of immigration reform and provide a path to citizenship for US immigrants. As the current pandemic shows, immigrant workers are vital to our nation and have earned the opportunity to become full members of our society."