In light of the current situation that our nation faces as a result of the spread of COVID-19, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) has developed a list of demands aimed at addressing the gaps and disproportionate impact that Latinos and immigrants in the United States have thus far faced, and could potentially continue to face in years to come if the proper policies are not expeditiously implemented.
In order for our nation’s economy to fully recover from the backlash of this virus, government officials, at both state and federal levels – and on both sides of the political divide – need to include Latino and immigrant workers in all future stimulus packages that can provide financial aid and relief. Moreover, including immigrants, both documented and undocumented alike, in programs and policies focused on enhancing worker’s protections, healthcare, and assistance, while at the same time rescinding programs such as the “public charge”rule is key to erradicate inequality.
This pandemic has been able to shed light on a series of legitimized systematic failures that have kept our communities neglected for too long. Tackling these issues, and vehemently demanding permanent solutions is crucial in the process of our nation’s economic recovery, and furthermore fundamental in the preservation of our democracy.
HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES
Implementing safety measures and equipment for all workers, including those who are on the frontlines of this Pandemic.
- Testing, vaccination, and treatment, checking need to be readily available.
- All essential front-line workers need safety protections on the job, including OSHA oversight, safety training, and personal protective equipment. All workers that have maintained the daily function of our society during this pandemic deserve additional pay and paid sick leave. Congress must mandate that OSHA enacts and enforces emergency pandemic standards/protocols to protect all workers who are being exposed to the virus during this pandemic.
- Allocation of funding to provide in-language documents about both COVID-19 and the availability of economic support programs in the FEMA language access plan’s 19 recommended languages. Funding must also be provided to health care providers and other front-line workers with access to interpretation services.
GOVERNMENT ECONOMIC STIMULUS
- Immigrants, regardless of documentation status, should be included in all emergency aid programs without fear of a “public charge” backlash.
- Unemployment insurance needs to be expanded to include all immigrants, not only those who are currently work-authorized.
- All immigrants who have paid taxes using a Social Security Number (SSN)) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) should be eligible for financial government relief and stimulus programs.
Our nation’s broken immigration system needs to be addressed and fixed.
- Legislators should immediately provide a pathway to citizenship to the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants that live and work in the United States.
- Auto renewal of work authorization for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis these programs, and need to be amended in order to include a pathway to citizenship for all recipients.
- There needs to be an immediate end to ICE raids, closing of all immigration detention centers, particularly those which hold unaccompanied migrant children, as well as significant efforts to reunite those families that have been torn apart by this administration’s zero tolerance policy.
EXPANSION OF SAFETY NET PROGRAMS
Legislators need to expand our nation’s safety net program so that it includes all immigrants, documented and not documented alike:
- Unemployment insurance
- Health care must permanently cease to be subject to the “public charge” rule.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The “public charge” rule represents a direct attack against immigrants and should consequently be rescinded.
- The Department of Homeland Security and State Department’s public charge rules took effect on February 24, 2020. The regulations have deterred immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members from seeking health, nutrition assistance, and other essential services. In order to protect public health, Congress must reevaluate and rescind the “public charge” regulations during this crisis.
- Any further action by federal agencies to alter the longstanding policies on public charge must be halted. Assistance programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, as well as Public Housing or Section 8, Housing Vouchers and Rental Assistance need to be permanently basic resources made accessible to all who need them regardless of immigration status.
JOB AND INCOME
Federal and state authorities need to prioritize policies capable of providing low-wage workers with economic opportunities, and jobs. This will guarantee the reduction of income inequality throughout the reconstruction of our nation’s economy.
- Federal and state authorities need to pursue policies that allow for workers to participate in organizing their work sites, thus providing them with workers’ rights and better economic opportunities.
- Workers in all industries have played a crucial role in disclosing information regarding their safety and that of their co-workers, during the COVID-19 crisis. Government officials must ensure that whistleblowers are not retaliated against, and are granted protections, as the information they disclose can have an impact on workers and the public.
Legislators at the state and federal level need to ensure that workers across our nation have access to housing, this includes suspending all eviction of renters and foreclosures of homes and developing a strategy aimed at increasing secure temporary housing.
In order to guarantee and preserve our nation’s democracy, states need to include Voting Expansion measures by:
- Providing universal non-excuse vote by mail options in federal races in every state in the United States for at least the general election on November 3, 2020 as well as ballot drop-offs; push for state governments to adopt vote by mail options for state and local elections in 2020 if they don’t already offer this. Remove doctor’s note, notary, and privacy information requirements from those 22 states that still require them for voting via absentee ballot; allocate the necessary funding from the federal level through congressional action in order to ensure that all Americans can safely vote come the November elections. These recommendations should also be adopted for school board and other jurisdictional races.
- Ensuring that all states must guarantee a 14-day early voting period.
- The Department of Health and Human Services should address barriers to the collection and analysis of data by reporting disaggregated demographic information regarding COVID-19.
- In order to Immediately respond to this crisis, congress should require the CDC, as well as organizations that participate in the COVID-19 surveillance systems to collect data on each patient’s profile, including: race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, age, language, sexual orientation, disability (if any), as well as socioeconomic status.
STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AUTONOMY TO DISTRIBUTE RESOURCES
State and Local governments are faced with the task of budgeting their own local relief in response to COVID-19. The CARES Act’s formula for distributing assistance to states continues to exclude communities in those states with large immigrant populations.
- Direct assistance from the federal government to local and state governments should not be politicized by restricting the redistribution in those states, particularly in Republican led states that have immigrant rich cities with populations under 500,000 and should allow them to decide it’s proper use.
- Workers have paid into a system for decades of work for the promise of security in retirement through pensions. With the volatility in the stock market and a projected loss in hours and contributions to our member’s retirement plans, we call on congress to act once and for all to help provide relief to retirement plans by investing directly into Multi-employer Pension plans to ensure security for all worker’s futures.
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