With “Mixed Status” Immigrant Families Left Out of COVID-19 Relief, Children’s Groups Outline Priorities for Congress
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 17, 2020
Contact: Tom Salyers (tsalyers[at]clasp[dot]org / (202) 906-8002; Lynn Tramonte (latramonte[at]gmail[dot]com / (202) 255-0551)
WASHINGTON, D.C.—This afternoon, nearly 200 national, state, and local organizations that work on behalf of children and youth sent a letter to Congress, listing their child-focused priorities for the next COVID-19 recovery package.
“While the CARES Act was a strong start, we are deeply concerned that children in mixed-immigration status families (those with both citizen and noncitizen members) have been excluded from critical relief. These children comprise one in four of all children in the United States, and the vast majority are U.S. citizens,” the letter states. “If we have learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that we are stronger together and that our individual well-being is connected to that of our neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin or where they come from.”
In the letter, the groups call on Congressional leaders to ensure that the next round of COVID-19 recovery plans will include: access to healthcare and testing; granting tax-paying mixed status families relief under the CARES Act; suspending immigration enforcement; and ensuring all families have access to food and have basic needs met, among other vital provisions.
The letter was spear-headed by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), and is signed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Children’s Defense Fund, First Focus on Children, The Children’s Partnership, MomsRising, the National Education Association, and UnidosUS in addition to many other national and state-based groups. See the full letter with signatories here; text pasted below:
April 17, 2020
Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, and Leader McCarthy:
As organizations that serve, represent, and advocate on behalf of children, youth, and families, we thank you for bringing much-needed relief to U.S. families by passing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. There is more to be done to ensure that all children and families are able to weather the storm ahead.
As the nation navigates this public health and economic crisis, it is essential we ensure that all families are able to access the support they need to stay healthy and make ends meet. While the CARES Act was a strong start, we are deeply concerned that children in mixed-immigration status families (those with both citizen and noncitizen members) have been excluded from critical relief. These children comprise one in four of all children in the United States, and the vast majority are U.S. citizens. It is simply unacceptable to leave them out of the COVID-19 response. Doing so will not only put more children at risk of falling into poverty but also greatly undermine our nation’s ability to overcome this crisis.
If we have learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that we are stronger together and that our individual well-being is connected to that of our neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin or where they come from. The pandemic has also reinforced the importance of ensuring that every child has access to health care, housing, and food and that their parents are able to protect and provide for them. Thus, we support the passage of a fourth COVID-19 relief package that includes the following provisions:
- Ensuring everyone has access to health care, including expanding emergency Medicaid so that coronavirus testing and treatment is available to everyone in the United States. Children need their parents to be healthy in order to care for them, and no child or youth should have to go without potentially life-saving treatment. We must ensure that all people–whether they are a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holder, lawful permanent resident (regardless of date of entry), or undocumented immigrant—is able to access health care.
- Permitting tax-paying “mixed-status” families to qualify for CARES Act payments. U.S. citizen children and spouses who live in mixed-status immigrant families were unfairly excluded from receiving CARES Act economic support. As a result, 5.1 million children, more than 80 percent of whom are U.S. citizens, will be denied financial support to help their parents keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table. We must address this exclusion in future COVID-19 legislation so that all working families have access to financial relief.
- Automatically extending the work authorizations of DACA recipients and TPS holders. Over 500,000 American children under the age of 18 have parents who rely on DACA or TPS in order to work. Many DACA and TPS recipients are employed in health care or service industries and are “essential workers” during this pandemic. Congress should automatically extend their work permits so that they can continue to fill critical positions and care for their families without an expiration date hanging over their heads.
- Suspending immigration enforcement actions, including arrests, detentions, and deportations. No family should be deterred from seeking critical assistance due to fears of immigration enforcement, which could subject them to infection in detention facilities and separation from their families. Research shows that detention or deportation of a parent has harmful developmental and psychological effects on children. During this national emergency, it is essential that immigration enforcement actions cease, including in sensitive locations like hospitals and other health care settings, and that no additional funding is provided for immigrant detention and deportation.
- Halting implementation of the public charge rules and related regulations. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of State public charge rules have already resulted in eligible individuals and their children avoiding and disenrolling from critical health care and nutrition programs, out of fear that participation may compromise their immigration status. It is essential that these harmful regulations and others modeled in their likeness, like the Housing and Urban Development rule, which would restrict housing for mixed-immigration status families, are not implemented during a pandemic.
- Ensuring all families have access to an adequate food supply. Immigrants work hard on our nation’s farms and in factories and restaurants. Without them, our food supply would be at risk. The least we can do is ensure that they can feed their families and that no child goes hungry, by expanding nutrition benefits like the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) and extending the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program through the summer of 2020.
- Providing vital public information in multiple languages. Language barriers should not stand in the way of parents accessing information to help their families get through this crisis, and children should not be forced to translate such important matters. Public health, housing, employment, and assistance information must be provided in multiple languages so that everyone can get the information they need to stay healthy and prosper.
The extent to which we emerge from this crisis a stronger and more united nation will depend largely on advancing policies that reach all members of our community, including those who are most vulnerable. Children in immigrant families–like all our children–are critical to our collective future, and we simply cannot exclude them from COVID-19 relief efforts.
Respectfully, List of organizations