In a new essay, FWD.us Vice President of Advocacy Alida Garcia highlights the urgent need for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, millions of whom have helped keep all of us alive as the country struggles to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Immigrants of all backgrounds — including millions of undocumented immigrants — continue to serve as health care workers, first responders, and essential workers as we grapple with the devastating effects COVID-19 has had on our families, communities, and economy.
In addition to serving as farmworkers, frontline healthcare providers, caretakers, and educators, immigrant communities, alongside Black and Latinx communities — many of whom are also immigrants — have suffered a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases and deaths and have been left out of federal government relief due to their statuses.
Threatening immigrant families jeopardizes our shared health and economic recovery. We need all hands on deck to fight this global health crisis. We must protect, support, and empower our communities to respond to the urgent crisis.
Read the full essay here and below.
By: Alida Garcia
By now, you’ve seen the viral photos of farmworkers hunched over, working in the fields under an orange sky, inhaling ash from wildfires, doing the skilled and tough labor that has allowed millions of us to keep food on our tables in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. These striking images make it clearer than ever: Our economic recovery from the pandemic is entirely reliant on providing a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people currently living in the US. There’s no way forward without doing right by the undocumented individuals who are keeping all Americans alive as our country continues to combat the coronavirus crisis.
Without the continued infusion of immigration, and without ensuring the strength and stability of immigrant families, we won’t be able to create the jobs needed to rebuild our economy. Similarly, cutting immigration has devastating impacts on job creation and economic growth
. Simply put, there is no recovery from COVID-19 without the immigrant families who are keeping all of us safe.
The only way that Congress can prevent a future administration from weaponizing our immigration system is through reform that ensures our undocumented community members are able to become citizens.
We should transform our immigration system fundamentally to create a just, humane set of laws that reflect what we know our values should be and a system that centers human dignity. Immigration can power the next century of American moral leadership, not just economic leadership.
Strong families are the backbone of our communities and our economy. We should transform our system to prioritize keeping families together and ensure that everyone across the country can fully contribute to the COVID-19 recovery, which will take years. More than 16 million people in the US live in mixed-status families, including over 6 million US citizen kids
. More than 200,000 US citizen children have a parent who’s a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient. Denying them a roadmap to citizenship risks separating millions of families and holds them back from fully participating in the country they know as home. Crucially, we also need to take a new approach to policies around asylum and refugee admissions, expanding opportunities for those fleeing the worst of circumstances to find the United States a welcoming nation that embraces them with open arms.
A just, orderly immigration system both keeps our families safe and ensures new and economic opportunities for everyone across the country. We have a unique opportunity to create a better way. Our nation’s health, communities, and economic recovery depend on it.