COVID 19, the deadly Coronavirus that has changed the world as we know it, respects no country’s borders and claims lives regardless of one’s immigration status. As people around the world implement social distancing protocols to limit the spread of the disease, U.S. immigrant populations find themselves isolated at an even greater social distance from the general population.
How? Well for one, the U.S. government certainly did not want the immigrant population to know how to combat the virus. Immigration Courts across the country ordered signs warning of the disease to be taken down (especially where they could be seen by immigrants).
Secondly, while over 11.74 billion dollars was paid in taxes by undocumented persons in the U.S. last year, none of the federal aid recently approved to combat the effects of the Coronavirus, will go their way. Why? Fear. Remember the February Supreme Court decision that lifted the injunction on USCIS’ proposed “public charge rule”?
Well not only are immigrants afraid of requesting any type of emergency or financial aid, they are afraid of getting medical care at local clinics thus perpetuating the wider spread of COVID-19. This is particularly alarming given that immigrant populations are more widely uninsured and in need of medical care and will find themselves in overrun emergency rooms in the midst of the pandemic.
Corona also stands between a detained immigrants’ life and death. As even local jails and prisons are releasing thousands of criminal inmates to avoid the spread of the disease, 38,000 immigration detainees remain in unsanitary conditions at a greater risk of the disease. In Louisiana, the state with the fastest Corona growth rate , a group of detained women made a video to record their plight. Once a week they are given 5 bars of soap for a dorm of 75 women and must sleep in bunk beds only 3 feet apart. Social distancing protocols did not seem to make it into their detention center.
We are not the only ones in the midst of this crisis. Anti-immigrant rhetoric around the world has created a Pandora’s box. Detained populations susceptible of widespread infection can drain resources from already drained and limited health services.
Recently, the United Kingdom released hundreds of immigration detainees to prevent the spread of the virus. The issue of the spread of Corona in detained immigrant populations is of great concern considering that the projected death estimates for the U.S. will be up to 240,000 people in the next few months.
A Federal judge in Pennsylvania, also faced with the issue of detaining vulnerable people in immigration detention center, recently released a dozen detainees. Although this number is small when compared to the problem. The Judge stated in his opinion to release the detainees that we should not be “party to an unconscionable and possibly barbaric result.” Unconscionable and barbaric… That is exactly what we, Americans, are not! So, let’s act like it and face this world pandemic together, as a conscionable, civilized society.
By The Immigration Post – Chief Editor