CPUSA demands safety and justice for immigrant workers in this crisis!

BY:Communist Party USA| April 9, 2020
CPUSA demands safety and justice for immigrant workers in this crisis!


Español aquí.

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is costing thousands of lives, massive hardship, and economic chaos to the whole population of the United States. But the immigrant population is being especially hard hit by the combination of the pandemic, the economic near collapse, and the vicious, racist anti-immigrant policies of the Trump administration and its allies.

Why is the immigrant population being hit especially hard? Major sectors of it are low paid and low income, and thus they and their families are severely impacted. Moreover, there is racist discrimination against many immigrants, especially those from Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Africa. This is being exacerbated daily by Trump, the Republican Party, and the far right.

Immigrant workers, including the 11–12 million without documents, work in especially dangerous occupations, are low paid, and often don’t even have paid sick leave. They often do not have health insurance on the job, and if fired or laid off do not get any severance pay or unemployment compensation, the latter if undocumented especially.

Occupations in which undocumented and some documented immigrants often work include:

*Farm labor, with its low pay and very bad working conditions.

*Meat packing and other food preparation work.

*Work in restaurants and hotels with its intimate contact with the consumer public.

*Child care

*Care for elderly and homebound people.

*Gardening and landscaping.

*Retail trade in low-paid positions such as sales clerks, cleaning personnel, stockroom workers, etc.

All these occupations provide vital services for the public and the U.S. economy, as well as make huge fortunes for the corporations and wealthy. In many cases these businesses can’t close down or their owners will not close them.

For this reason and the lack of labor rights of many immigrants, and despite having little or no paid sick leave, health insurance, and safety protections, the workers are going to work every day, endangering themselves, their co-workers and families, and the public. Often they are not being provided with face masks, gloves, and other elementary health supplies and must ride crowded public transportation, further exposing themselves to the danger of COVID-19.

On top of this, thousands of immigrants, including small children, have been incarcerated by the Trump administration in overcrowded and unsanitary detention facilities, risking their lives without their having been convicted of any crime. Others are living in similarly dangerous conditions just across the border in Mexico, and yet others have been sent to face other kinds of danger in Central America.

As elsewhere, schools in immigrant communities are now closed, with the children sent home. In households where the parents often both continue working during the day, this creates a further problem. And in many cases, low-income immigrant households lack computers and thus the ability for children to participate in their school lessons online.

The bill passed in Congress to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout (the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES) leaves millions of immigrants without any help at all. There is no language obliging their employers to give them paid illness leave, and especially galling is the fact that direct government subsidies will be available only to those who file their federal income taxes with a social security number, not, as many immigrants do, with a special federal Taxpayer Identification Number. They can be tested for coronavirus for free, but in most cases will have no insurance coverage for treatment if they test positive.

Immigrants and their allies are protesting this highly discriminatory and dangerous state of affairs. We are hearing of hunger strikes in immigrant detention facilities, and a number of petitions are circulating nationally. In Congress, Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has fiercely denounced the exclusion of many immigrants from the bill that Congress has passed.

What must we do? The Communist Party USA calls for:

Release of all immigrants who are detained awaiting adjudication of their immigration legal proceedings, and all children without exception. Close the camps and end the “Remain in Mexico” (MPP) program.

Passage of legislation to add undocumented immigrants to all the benefits of the legislation just passed by Congress.

Medicare for All, available for all households regardless of immigration status.

Change U.S. foreign policy to end situations in the home countries which cause people to become migrants and refugees. An end to free trade agreements and other neoliberal policies that create extreme poverty and plant the seed for control of communities by criminal-affiliated groups.

Quick action to make sure that all households with school-age children have computers with internet access and to provide free or low-cost, subsidized childcare for all working families.

Immediate implementation of policies which do not force immigrant workers with or without papers to expose themselves and others to danger by forcing them to work because they have no income if they stay home.

Action by the Supreme Court of the United States to delay any decision on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) until after the Covid-19 crisis has passed.

Permanently suspend the Public Charge Rule which the Supreme Court allowed to go into effect on February 24, 2020, and which discriminates against low-income immigrants who are in the process of adjusting their immigration status, and results in fear of seeking nutritional assistance and health care.

Institution of policies to assure that members of all communities, including immigrants with or without papers, are able to seek health care without fear. There are millions of immigrant families who are at the frontlines of combatting the impacts of the pandemic. From food and agriculture workers to home and health-care workers, Dreamers, TPS holders, and immigrant workers and families—regardless of immigration status—are critical to keeping all American communities safe and healthy. We must demand that all families regardless of status are protected in any legislation.

An end to all ICE raids, which are continuing in spite of the pandemic.

An end to all wall building.

A complete immigrant friendly overhaul of our laws and policies regarding immigrants and refugees, including a fair and just method for workers to enter the U.S., the right to not be tied to one employer, and the right to join a labor union.

Here are some actions you can take now:

Protect All Workers—includes immigrant worker demands—SEIU

Ensure All People Have Access to Care—regardless of immigration status—MoveOn

United We Dream—SCOTUS: Delay DACA Decision

Presente—Protect All Families in the Stimulus Package

Help raise funds in support of Immigrant Workers: NDLON (National Day Labor Organizing Network) raising funds for immigrants

In addition, we urge all our members and friends to contact the White House, the Justice Department, and your senators and representatives to press them to end this inhumane situation.

Prepared by Immigrant Rights Subcommittee, Political Action Commission, Communist Party USA. Contact: politicalaction@cpusa.org.

Image: Kevin Coles, Creative Commons (BY 2.0).


    The Communist Party USA is a  revolutionary working-class  political party founded in 1919 in Chicago, IL. The Communist Party stands for the interests of the American working class and the American people. It stands for our interests in both the present and the future. Solidarity with workers of other countries is also part of our work. We work in coalition with the labor movement, the peace movement, the student movement, organizations fighting for equality and social justice, the environmental movement, immigrants rights groups and the health care for all campaign. But to win a better life for working families, we believe that we must go further. We believe that the American people can replace capitalism with a system that puts people before profit — socialism. We are rooted in our country's revolutionary history and its struggles for democracy. We call for "Bill of Rights" socialism, guaranteeing full individual freedoms.

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