A recording of today’s call is available here.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Leading voices in public health, faith, law enforcement and agriculture urged the Trump administration and Congress to take commonsense actions to address the COVID-19 pandemic on a press call today.
Speakers underscored the importance of a public health approach and COVID-19 relief package that includes the most vulnerable, called on officials to release nonviolent detainees from immigration detention and emphasized the importance of continued visa processing for immigrant workers.
The following are quotes from speakers on today’s call:
Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals, speaking on the importance of access to public services for all community members:
“Thank God for millions of immigrants working in every sector of our economy: growing and preparing our food, caring for the sick and the elderly, developing treatments and a vaccine for COVID-19. In a time of unprecedented crisis, we should protect the health and well-being of everyone in our communities. Together we will get through this.”
Ashley Feasley, Director of Policy, Migration and Refugee Services Offices, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, speaking to the additional challenges faced by those without legal status amid the pandemic:
“During this global pandemic and national emergency, access to treatment and care for immigrants, including undocumented individuals, is critical to tracking and responding to the crisis. Removing barriers to testing and treatment not only saves lives but keeps all Americans safer.”
Sandro Galea, Dean, Boston University School of Public Health, calling on officials to address the health risks of immigration detention and to remove barriers for immigrants who perform critical jobs:
“Crowded detention facilities are ideal incubators for disease, threatening the health not just of the detained, but of surrounding communities. To safeguard public health, nonviolent detainees should be released and allowed to self-isolate.
“Many of those who become sick will likely be treated by doctors who are themselves immigrants. This speaks to the importance of a having system that allows immigrants to enter positions like the health workforce through a network of opportunity that starts with their entry into the U.S. and remains in place as their lives here unfold.”
James Lopez, former Chief of the East Patrol Division for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, addressing the additional burden that unnecessary detention of immigrants creates:
“Those immigration detainees who become acute COVID-19 patients will not be treated at the facility infirmary, but will be transferred to local medical hospitals, further stressing critically scarce resources. Reducing the at-risk population of detainees is a worthy and viable option.
“We can continue the discussion of immigration policy when the COVID-19 crisis is over. Now is the time for thoughtful and decisive leadership to protect life, ensure public safety, preserve vital medical resources and reduce the threat of this public medical crisis.”
Craig Regelbrugge, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Research, AmericanHort, speaking to the need for continued processing of visas for immigrants playing a critical role in our workforce:
“Immigrant labor is indispensable to the agriculture industry: Experienced and skilled farm workers are essential workers, and they support a critical infrastructure industry. Perhaps never in most of our lifetimes have they been more important. Government and farmers must work together to ensure we have the workers we need, when and where we need them, with high attention to their health and well-being.”
Jacinta Ma, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, National Immigration Forum:
“Without a clear plan to address COVID-19 that takes immigrants into account, the risks and harms associated with coronavirus will increase — for citizens and non-citizens alike. We need a detailed, comprehensive plan from the Trump administration and Congress that ensures all families and children, regardless of immigration status, can stay safe and healthy during this crisis.”
Ali Noorani, President and CEO, National Immigration Forum.
“Talking to colleagues and policymakers across the country as stories of immigrant families impacted by COVID-19 emerge, it is clear that the economic dominoes falling on almost every household are falling the hardest on the most vulnerable — immigrant households among them. Commonsense policies that serve and protects immigrants and refugees are critical in terms of keeping the American people safe.
“The fact is, COVID-19 makes no distinction between citizens, permanent residents, visa holders and people who are undocumented. That’s why the Trump administration must prioritize the health and safety of all community members — including immigrants and refugees.”