This U.S. presidential administration has proven to be as equally criminally negligent as it is incompetent. There is really no way to sugarcoat it. Tactful language could not articulate the dire straits in which many marginalized communities find themselves.
In a crass, racist display, the administration foolishly clings to the same xenophobic policies it had in place prior to our current emergency.
The COVID-19 response at the federal level has been underwhelming and, I would argue, harmful to communities of color, poor folks and, especially, undocumented community members. This is disheartening in a public health emergency.
As a recent Mother Jones article noted, undocumented people fear the increased threat of deportation if they seek medical care. The Trump administration’s “Public Charge” rule complicates an already tense environment. Besides making medical care riskier, the rule also creates food insecurity for many families who would likely qualify for aid. This will have an especially deleterious impact on children and seniors who are unable to work and rely on these public resources for their daily nutritional needs.
Likewise, the closing of federal offices impacts the lives of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who are in the process of renewing paperwork. The absence of a plan to extend deadlines amid a global pandemic leaves many in danger of having paperwork lapse, making them vulnerable to detention and deportation. The twisted irony with closures is that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), immigrant detention centers and most immigration courts are operating unabated.
Locally, both the American Civil Liberties Union and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project sued ICE on behalf of immigrants detained at the Northwest Detention Center over high risk of illness or death if a COVID-19 infection proliferates. Fear is real as ProPublica reported that “ICE has repeatedly struggled to contain communicable diseases that can spread in ways similar to the coronavirus.” Also, an infection will likely mass disseminate as immigration courts resist a recent order to cease operations. They remain open as personnel are forced to meet removal quotas.
As of this past week, only essential service providers are asked to attend work per usual. Many who fall within this category are farm workers. A recent story on NPR illustrated this dilemma when interviewing food industry professionals about farm workers. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, undocumented workers account for roughly 50 percent of the farm labor workforce. Deportation and detention will have a serious effect on our food supply, which will prove catastrophic.
We are living in extraordinary times. A sure way to meet needs is to cease all ICE operations, provide medicine for all and increase social safety nets. We got this, so let’s do this.
See help in Spanish: kingcounty.gov/depts/health/languages/spanish.aspx
Read more in the Mar. 25-31, 2020 issue.