WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter today urging Congress to expand COVID-19 testing, treatment, and much-needed COVID-19 relief in order to protect the health and future of the country. Public health experts have recommended universal access to COVID-related testing and treatment to ensure the nation’s collective health.
Congress has repeatedly left millions of immigrants, including many DACA recipients; Temporary Protected Status holders; domestic violence survivors and survivors of crime; undocumented people; and green card holders, out of access to COVID-related testing and treatment, endangering everyone’s lives. As Congress negotiates another bill, they must make COVID-19 related care available to everyone, as well as other critical forms of relief. The ACLU demands four improvements related to immigrants and the country’s future:
- Testing and treatment for everyone who needs it via emergency Medicaid.
- Cash assistance for anyone who files taxes, including those using Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers.
- Automatic Employment Authorization Document extensions for those with DACA, Temporary Protected Status, and nonimmigrant visas.
- Release of people in immigration detention and suspension of immigration enforcement actions.
The following is a statement from Manar Waheed, senior legislative and advocacy counsel for the ACLU:
“As numbers spike all over America, our survival as a nation is at stake. Yet Congress has repeatedly failed to ensure testing and treatment for everyone who needs it. As a result, the options for people left out are limited, create confusion over eligibility, and fail to provide the care that immigrants deserve. Immigration status shouldn’t be a death sentence, but if Congress doesn’t act soon, it will continue to be.
“The pandemic affects us all, and testing and treatment is critical to slowing the spread of this virus. A national response that doesn’t ensure COVID-related care for everyone, including the 19.8 million ‘essential’ immigrant workers, endangers all of our health. We must include solutions that protect our collective health and future. Members of Congress must pass a national response that includes us all — our lives depend on it.”
The letter is available here.