The coronavirus doesn't discriminate





April 27, 2020
By Caelin Foley



Whether we are billionaires or barely getting by, the danger (and fear) of the coronavirus remains the same. In conversations about how we’ll move forward, both legal and undocumented immigrants are largely excluded. Ignoring an immigrant population of roughly 47 million in our country overlooks the true sense of what America is: a melting pot of diverse cultures and backgrounds. While people may discriminate based on one’s skin tone or accent, this virus knows no boundaries, sees no color, and speaks every language. Undocumented immigrants are at extreme risk during this time of crisis- and we are failing them.





Photo via salud-america.org



Uncertainty over employment is a pressing issue for most Americans right now. Undocumented people are no different, with many experiencing health risks as an essential worker or losing their jobs and therefore work visas; some legislators now advocate for the suspension of visas to promote American citizens reentering the work force. According to the 2018 census data, although undocumented immigrants only make up about 4% of the American labor force, they account for 10% of jobs within the hotel sector, and 8% of the jobs within the restaurant sector. A large portion of these workers have lost their jobs or had their hours cut significantly, but are ineligible to receive unemployment benefits per the recent bills passed. In the agricultural sector, undocumented workers have also been deemed essential, despite many farms not providing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) or training on how to follow social distancing while working. Immigrants are at immense financial and physical risk right now, whether they continue to work or not.


There are 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country. That’s the number of people who have incredibly limited access to health insurance and testing for the coronavirus. Although undocumented immigrants have been assured that ICE cannot act in hospitals unless under extreme circumstances, many are apprehensive to trust these claims. With instances like “The University of Farmington,” a fake university used to lure international students and immigrants into the clutches of ICE in 2015, these fears are understandable. Some testing sites require identification, making testing virtually inaccessible for undocumented people. Combining this with the lack of health insurance, many undocumented immigrants would rather risk their lives than risk deportation.


“I am worried about being able to receive testing and healthcare if I do get sick,” says one undocumented adult female that asked to remain anonymous. “There have not been resources made available saying that undocumented immigrants can get tested without repercussions, and I would drown in hospital bills if I got sick since I am uninsured.” People are ready to die due to fears of deportation. Yet the American people are looking away- if not from lack of information, then from apathy.


Before anything can change, we must acknowledge the healthcare disparity that exists in communities of color, which often overlap with immigrant populations. Black and Latinx patients are dying at a rate disproportionate to their white counterparts (especially in New York, an epicenter of the virus). While slow change will be created by continuing to criticize the healthcare and immigration systems that have failed people of color and immigrants for generations, we can also speak out about the support currently being given to these communities.


The U.S. government has already given out almost three trillion dollars in aid to assist in relief and recovery from the effects of the coronavirus. However, undocumented immigrants have received nothing. In the past two CARES Act bills passed, undocumented immigrants have been intentionally excluded and ignored, leaving 11 million people at risk.


Call upon your representatives, senators, and governors to support undocumented immigrants and their rights during this time of dire need nationwide. Until all of our nation’s people are taken care of, no bill is good enough- and we need to make sure that is known.


Contact your Senator now at https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact!

Edited by Bella Perreira