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BY BILL MEFFORD

March 22, 2020


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If she's undocumented, how will she cope with COVID-19?
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread and fears rise, there is even more fear among undocumented communities who fear both the terror of a pandemic as well as the state-sponsored terror under this current administration - via USA Today
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. - Isaiah 41:10
One of the communities hardest hit by this pandemic are undocumented immigrants. The stimulus package being voted on today in the Senate contains nothing for undocumented people, and though Immigrants and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have stated that they are only focused on those with criminal histories, ICE is not an organization known for honesty or compassion.
 
In addition, many undocumented immigrants have employment in such service industries as hotels and restaurants, and these industries have been swiftly decimated by the disease. Those immigrants who can keep their jobs might not qualify for paid sick leave and might be faced with the choice of either being exposed to a deadly virus or sliding into joblessness, homelessness, and inescapable poverty. Furthermore, all local US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices, which is where immigrants go to navigate their way through the incredibly complex immigration system, are closed until April.
 
The support system for undocumented immigrants is being shredded. Most not-for-profit organizations and faith communities who normally support immigrants are experiencing their own worst nightmare as the economy is headed towards certain recession and possibly worse.
 
While the emergency room is still mandated by law to serve anyone who shows up, many immigrants live in constant fear that outing themselves by showing up might result in their arrest and deportation. And because of this administration’s “public charge rule,” which dictates that all undocumented immigrants are immediately disqualified from accessing any and all public benefits, immigrants have a right to fear all potential help from the government. When you live in constant fear of the government, they become the last place you look to when another form of terror evolves.
Seek out the not-for-profits and faith communities that serve immigrants in your community and support them. Here's one to start.
Jesus, our Great Physician, bring healing to your people all over the world, no matter how old or young, how rich or poor, or what their nationality is. Bring refuge to our immigrant siblings and justice to those who would deny them access to the necessary services they deserve and need. Amen.
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