LETTER: Congress should include immigrants in pandemic relief

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Editor: As the Senate returns to Congress and talks begin of another COVID-19 relief bill, we must not forget the ones who the Trump Administration has chosen to ignore: Undocumented immigrants in America.

Immigrants represent 17% of the overall U.S. civilian workforce, they are 28% of physicians and 24% of dentists, for example, as well as 38% of home health aides.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress enacted three legislative packages to fortify the nation’s health care infrastructure, expand access to testing and treatment, and promote economic recovery; and yet, Congress consistently excluded immigrants from these legislative packages. Immigrants are essential to the American economy. 

Without immigrant Americans, there is no essential workforce in America. 

Immigrants have kept this country running through COVID-19. It is because of their essential work we can still access food, healthcare and necessities. Over 20,000 health care workers in the United States are under DACA protection.

During a time of immense need, a country that has always prided itself on taking care of those who come from afar has come up short. We have an administration that has put patriotic isolationism in front of humanitarian aid. Thousands of immigrants face ultimatums, to pay for the roof above their heads or pay for a full stomach, a choice that no one in America should make. 

We must include immigrants in the next COVID19 relief bill. 

The next COVID-19 relief package must include direct economic stimulus to all workers: Including ITIN filers, mixed-status families and dependents. Under the CARES Act, individuals filing taxes with an ITIN are ineligible for direct cash assistance payments, despite ITIN filers generating billions in taxes every year. Congress must automatically extend work permits and status for immigrants with employment authorization; including DACA and TPS holders, to renew their status and work permits.  

COVID-19 does not exclude anyone based on immigration status; neither should relief efforts.

— Jess Rosero, via [email protected] 

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