Coronavirus emergency responses must include those most affected: the 70 million refugees forcibly displaced by conflict or crisis, most of whom are women and girls.
As access to other critical support services dwindles, survivors of violence are more isolated and unable to seek assistance as they consider leaving violent situations.
The U.S. government has responded to the one-two punch of a health crisis and economic meltdown with accelerated drug trials and trillions of dollars in economic stimulus for businesses and Americans alike. One segment of the population that falls into a gray area, however, is immigrants.
“We have been having issues with getting jobs. We have had a lot of cancellations. There is no income. I don’t know if I’m able to pay my rent. We have been excluded from the federal government to pay our rent. We are invisible.”
Last week, a panel discussion explored the impacts of the pandemic on the North American borders. Given the intense economic and social interdependence that Canada and Mexico have with the United States, closing of borders will bring major disruptions to every single component of their national fabric.
The Trump administration declared farmworkers “essential” and advised them to continue working—meaning the 2.5 million U.S. farmworkers providing this food must put their health and safety on the line to keep Americans fed throughout this pandemic.
Today, approximately 35,000 of my fellow adoptees are living without citizenship. The thought of being banished to the country who abandoned me as an infant—without familiar language, livelihood or loved ones—is almost incomprehensible.
Healthcare professionals—like so many other immigrant groups—face incredible visa restrictions, but all that could be easily relaxed to enable their desperately needed help in the COVID-19 battle.
As countries shut down their borders and order lockdowns in our homes, we are all absorbing the message that survival depends on distance. But survival also depends on kindness, compassion and taking care of each other. There are ways to keep safe without abandoning our international obligations or our humanity.
The coronavirus doesn’t need a visa to enter our country, jails, hospitals, schools or neighborhoods. We put our community’s health at risk if we don’t create safe areas for those who are sick to come forward and get treatment and if we don’t institute smart and effective means of monitoring all who enter the U.S.—regardless of immigration status.