Viruses Don’t Care About Immigration Status

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West side view of the United States Capitol building.

Washington, D.C. The US Senate on Thursday passed the third piece of legislation to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The bill, however, failed to address the fact that millions of immigrants do not have access to emergency healthcare providing access to free testing and treatment for the Coronavirus.

Under current law, immigrants must be lawful permanent residents for at least five years to become eligible for Medicaid.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC issues the following statement: 

“This third Senate Coronavirus package is a critical first step that provides help to families, workers, and first responders/health care workers. But more work needs to be done in future bills for the immigrant community.

We are disappointed that the bill fails to provide access to testing and treatment and the necessary financial assistance for all immigrants. Viruses don’t discriminate and neither should a bill that is meant to protect us during this public health emergency. There are over three million Asian immigrants living in the U.S. who do not have access to Medicaid even for emergency Coronavirus testing and treatment.

On Monday, Speaker Pelosi released a comprehensive bill that included key provisions to keep immigrants and mixed-status families healthy and safe. Among these provisions were policies offering access to Medicaid testing and treatment to all people regardless of immigration status and a requirement that the government automatically extend status and work authorization for immigrants, including DACA and temporary protected status recipients, while the government deals with this crisis. We also commend the House measure for restoring access to Medicaid for people who live and work in the U.S. under the Compact of Free Association (COFA).

Viruses do not care about immigration status. Everyone, regardless of immigration status, must have access to testing and treatment for Coronavirus and offered an economic safety net so we are all protected in this crisis. To stop this virus from spreading, we urge Congress to pass these important provisions that protect all people living in the U.S. regardless of their immigration status.

Advancing Justice | AAJC is fighting for millions of immigrants to ensure everyone from the front-line health care workers and janitorial staff, the food chain workers from harvesters to grocery, delivery workers, and all other essential workers are able to protect their health and safety. We thank them for continuing to work and risk their lives to keep us healthy and safe even as some in Congress try to deny them basic protections in this pandemic.”

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