Communist Party USA demands immigrant safety and justice in current health crisis
Protesters hold placards as members of the groups Abolish ICE Colorado, Sanctuary for All, American Friends Committee, and Never Again Action take part in a car protest to call for the release of detained immigrants at the GEO Detention Center, April 3, in Aurora, Colo. | David Zalubowski / AP

In a statement released April 9, the Immigrant Rights Subcommittee of the Communist Party USA’s Political Action Commission calls for 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.”

The statement cites the high cost of the COVID-19 pandemic on the people 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.”

Many first-generation immigrants work in low-paying and often dangerous jobs. An estimated 11-12 million are undocumented, meaning that if they lose their jobs they get no severance pay or unemployment benefits. Nor do they receive paid sick leave and often do not have health insurance from their employer.

Communist Party USA Statement: Safety and Justice for Immigrant Workers

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The main sectors of employment where both undocumented and some documented immigrants work include farm labor, with its notoriously poor working conditions; meatpacking and other food preparation work; restaurant and hotel work (although much of this has dried up in the last month); child care and care for elderly and homebound people; outdoor work such as gardening and landscaping; grocery stores and retail trade in lower-paid positions such as sales clerks, janitors, and stockroom workers. Immigrants are also found on construction sites, working on projects that are deemed “essential.”

Such occupations are vital services for the U.S. economy, as well as for the public, and cannot close down, as many businesses have, for the duration.

Despite their lack of benefits and labor rights, these workers “are going to work every day, endangering themselves, their co-workers and families, and the public,” says the statement. They continue working though they have not been given even the most minimal personal protective equipment, such as face masks and gloves. Many of them travel to work on buses and trains, exposing themselves to further viral dangers.

The CPUSA statement also refers to the plight of thousands, including small children, “incarcerated by the Trump administration in overcrowded and unsanitary detention facilities, risking their lives without their having been convicted of any crime.” Many others are enduring similar conditions across the Mexican border, while yet others have been sent back to the same dangers they fled from in their home countries of Central America.

Immigrant children, along with other children, have been sent home from closed schools, creating further problems if both parents are still working during the day. Many low-income immigrant households do not have computers and internet service, thus reducing the ability for their children to keep up with school lessons. Children from low-income families of all backgrounds also relied on free school lunch programs, only some of which have been replaced by continuing service in community centers.

It is important to remember, says the statement, that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) passed by Congress “leaves millions of immigrants without any help at all.” Nothing in the law obligates employers to provide paid sick leave. And direct government subsidies are available only to people filing their federal income taxes with a Social Security number, which many immigrants do not have. Even if immigrants can be tested free for coronavirus, who will pay for treatment?

Protest against such “discriminatory and dangerous” policies has erupted in the form of hunger strikes in immigrant detention facilities and petitions that are currently circulating. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has led the fight to include immigrants under Congressional protection.

In this moment of dire distress, the Communist Party is calling 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….”

The statement also calls for an end to further ICE raids, which continue despite the pandemic, and an end to Trump’s obsessive and expensive wall building.

A short guide to action websites is included in the CPUSA statement. They include:

Protect All Workers (SEIU)

Ensure All People Have Access to Care (MoveOn)

United We Dream—appealing to the Supreme Court to delay its DACA decision

Presente—Protect All Families in the Stimulus Package

The National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON) seeks to raise funds in support of immigrant workers.

In addition, readers are urged to contact the White House, the Justice Department, and your senators and representatives to press them to correct these inhumane injustices.

For further information contact: politicalaction@cpusa.org. The Immigrant Rights Subcommittee released its statement in English and Spanish.


CONTRIBUTOR

Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.

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