ICYMI: ‘Dreamers’ Tell Supreme Court Ending DACA During Pandemic Would Be ‘Catastrophic’

We wanted to make sure you saw this New York Times piece highlighting an unusual Supreme Court filing submitted on Friday, urging the justices to consider the extreme, unprecedented challenges arising from the global pandemic as they prepare to issue a decision on the fate of the DACA program.

The filing, submitted by litigators on behalf of DACA recipients, highlights the uncertainty of 27,000 young undocumented healthcare workers in the United States — including nurses, dentists, pharmacists, physician assistants, home health aides, technicians, and other staff — who are on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus. All are Dreamers.

In the brief, the authors write that “termination of DACA during this national emergency would be catastrophic,” adding that “to ensure health security, the country needs a robust health workforce. Rescinding DACA, however, would deprive the public of domestically educated, well-trained, and otherwise qualified health care professionals.”

On Monday, USA Today published a story on the fear DACA recipients are experiencing in a time of heightened uncertainty – far beyond their current day-to-day hardships – amidst the coronavirus pandemic as they try to renew their DACA protections with USCIS before the Supreme Court makes its ruling.

The Dreamers fighting on the frontlines include:

  • Jesus Contreras, a 26-year-old paramedic from Houston who supported rescue efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey three years ago. “We’re not only going to have to worry about this pandemic, but we’re going to have to worry about our immigration status and deportation,” he said.
  • Veronica Velasquez, a 27-year-old physical therapist at a Los Angeles community hospital. “I am treating people suspected of having COVID-19, and all I’m asking is to stay in this country and provide that care,” she said.
  • Ana Cueva, a 26-year-old nurse who immigrated to Utah at the age of 9 and has been working 12-hour shifts as a nurse in the intensive care unit of a community hospital in California. “The hospitals are way underprepared for a pandemic on this scale. They ration the equipment out, specifically the masks,” she said.
  • Aldo Martinez, a 26-year-old paramedic in Fort Myers, Florida, who worked a 48-hour shift late last week, helping a COVID-19 patient the second day. If DACA recipients were to lose their ability to work, he says, it would “create more chaos in an already chaotic situation.”
  • Daniel, a 32-year-old registered nurse in northern New Jersey who lives in fear that he may infect his wife and parents. “This is very difficult,” he said. “Everybody’s getting more anxious about it.”

Coverage highlighting the coronavirus outbreak and the 27,000 DACA recipients who work in healthcare at the frontlines of this pandemic was also published in: Slate, CNN, the Boston Globe (authored by the Editorial Board), the San Francisco Chronicle, SCOTUSblog, Law360, Axios and The National Law Journal.

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