U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined U.S. Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Lou Correa (D-CA) to introduce bicameral legislation that will protect immigrants and other vulnerable communities during the growing coronavirus pandemic. The Coronavirus Immigrant Families Protection Act would ensure that everyone in America — regardless of immigration status, socio-economic status, or English-language proficiency — can access health care and other essential resources during this public health crisis.
“This virus does not discriminate and it has put some of our country’s most vulnerable on the front lines of this public health emergency from health care, to home care, to our food supply,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We must immediately fill in the gaps so that in this unprecedented time, everyone in our country is supported and protected. I’m proud to fight for New York’s large immigrant community and other vulnerable populations to ensure we all have access to critical care and resources without fear of discrimination or retribution.”
The Coronavirus Immigrant Families Protection Act will help ensure all communities are able to access COVID-19 testing and treatment, and other relief services provided in coronavirus relief legislation. The legislation would provide dedicated funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct public outreach in multiple languages to hard-to-reach populations to ensure that vulnerable communities have access to COVID-19 relief measures and critical public health information.
Current immigration policies, like the public charge rule, have discouraged large communities from seeking health care and other critical services during the coronavirus pandemic due to confusion and fear of consequences. The Coronavirus Immigrant Families Protection Act will temporarily modify policies that deter immigrants from receiving the medical care and support they need.
To help ensure that critical services and resources are available to all Americans, the Coronavirus Immigrant Families Protection Act would:
• Modify immigration policies that would deter immigrants from seeking health services for the duration of the coronavirus emergency and for 60 days after the emergency ends, including suspending the public charge rules, in-person ICE checks, the immigration detention and deportation of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking who have pending immigration applications; and suspending immigration enforcement actions at or in transit to/from sensitive locations, such as hospitals, courthouses, domestic violence shelters, and other sensitive locations.
• Ensure that everyone has access to COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccines by providing coverage of COVID-19 of these services under Medicaid to everyone, regardless of immigration status; and prohibiting discrimination in any program funded by a coronavirus relief bill based on actual or perceived immigration status.
• Provide $100 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide language access and public outreach on coronavirus preparedness, response, and recovery to hard-to-reach populations—including minorities, those with limited English proficiency, and those with disabilities.
• Ensure access to COVID relief measures to vulnerable communities by allowing immigrant taxpayers to access cash relief benefits with an individual tax identification number (ITIN); and automatically extending expiring work authorization for immigrants during the coronavirus emergency for the same time period as was previously authorized.
The legislation is supported by a large coalition of advocacy organizations including the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), National Immigration Law Center (NILC), National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Casa de Esperanza, United We Dream (UWD), Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project, CCLA Inc., Tahirih Justice Center, California Immigrant Policy Center, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), Japanese American Citizens League, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), and Immigrant Legal Resource Center.