The DACA recipients protecting all Americans

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The strength that our nation, including my El Pasoan constituents, has summoned in the midst of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic is no surprise to anyone who understands our nation’s resilience. Yet, it remains nothing short of awe inspiring.

Americans are stepping in to care for their neighbors in ways large and small, even when our elected leaders fall short – a testament to our nation’s unrelenting determination. Whether working in essential frontline roles in health care, ensuring the certainty of our food supply chain in the fields or at the grocery store, in vital sanitation jobs, by staying home, or in countless other ways, Americans are contributing to the safety of everyone in their community, and especially so in El Paso.

Unfortunately, a large segment of hardworking Americans who are helping care for all are at additional risk right now – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients in El Paso and across the country, have been forced to live in fear and uncertainty while the Supreme Court decides whether to let the Trump administration end this life-changing program that benefits all Americans.

The Trump administration has been trying to end DACA since September of 2017, threatening nearly 700,000 young people who have lived nearly their entire lives in the U.S. with the threat of removal from our workforce, their families, and the lives they have built. The Supreme Court will rule on the DACA case any day now, and is anticipated to make a decision before the end of June this year. Make no mistake, even during a global pandemic, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has confirmed that they will cruelly pursue the deportation of DACA recipients should the Court removes their protections, with ICE’s Director Matt Albence claiming earlier this year that when “DACA done away with by the Supreme Court, [ICE] can actually effectuate those removal orders.” Among the 700,000 DACA recipients at risk are 200,000 essential frontline workers, including nearly 30,000 who work in health care jobs.

One of these brave young people is Josue Tuyub, a registered nurse working in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso. Josue has been practicing for more than a year, and is currently studying to complete his B.S.N. Josue came to the U.S. at just 15 years old. When I spoke with him recently, he said that DACA has allowed him to be able to work as a nurse – and he can’t see himself doing anything else. I am grateful for every single one of our health care workers, and recognize that we are incredibly lucky to have Josue and other DACA recipient health care workers like him working tirelessly in these critical roles, helping others at great personal risk. What a terrible loss to us all if Josue and the 30,000 other DACA recipients working in health care roles couldn’t continue to do so – and how outrageous that Josue and his DACA recipient colleagues should have to live in fear of losing their jobs and being deported in the middle of this terrible crisis. This would be harmful to DACA recipients and all those that rely on them, such as the patients they serve and the families they’ve started in the U.S.

The unspeakably cruel, anti-family agenda of deporting DACA recipients would be bad enough at any moment, but in the midst of this pandemic – while El Paso, Texas, and our entire country, is furiously combatting the COVID-19 health crisis – the thought of the Trump administration deporting the young immigrant essential workers is devastating, and makes absolutely no logical sense. Surely, no serious person could advocate for pushing 30,000 doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and home health aides out of our country at the very moment when we need them most – and when a DACA recipient could happen to be the person caring for any one of our loved ones when they need it. They could also be the cashier at your local grocery store, educator to your children, sanitation worker stemming the spread, or so many more critical roles.

The Supreme Court must remove the burden of uncertainty hanging over Josue and hundreds of thousands of other young people like him, and my colleagues in the Senate must pass the Dream and Promise Act to ensure that he and other DACA recipients contributing to our communities every day can continue living their lives here. The COVID-19 crisis has shown our country how truly connected we are to each other are – the only way forward is supporting DACA recipients who are supporting all of us – anything else would be immoral, impractical and a detriment to our nation.

Veronica Escobar represents the 16th District of Texas and is a member of the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 DACA essential workers Veronica Escobar

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