STATEMENT: The Struggle Against COVID-19 Pandemic Reveals How Little Thought the Administration Gave to the Consequences of Terminating DACA, Including for Recipients Working on the Frontlines, CAP’s Tom Jawetz Says

Washington, D.C — Today, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients currently fighting to preserve their protections in the U.S. Supreme Court filed a request notifying the court that the novel coronavirus pandemic is further exposing inadequacies in the administration’s termination of DACA. While the filing requests permission to submit supplemental briefing, it clearly lays out the argument that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security failed to properly evaluate the reliance interests of society at large—but especially the nation’s health care providers—on keeping the initiative intact.

According to CAP analysis, there are some 27,000 DACA recipients working in health care practitioner and support occupations. DACA recipients—including those whose stories were presented in briefs filed with the court—are working as hospital physicians, intensive care nurses, surgeons, and paramedics.

Tom Jawetz, vice president of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:

DACA recipients, like all Americans, are struggling to deal with the challenge of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and many program beneficiaries—also like so many other Americans—are on the frontlines of this fight. They are working as physicians, intensive care nurses, and paramedics; as teachers figuring out how to provide continued support to their students from a distance; and as grocery store clerks and delivery truck drivers helping to keep the shelves stocked. With more than 250,000 U.S. citizen children in their households, they are also parents juggling unprecedented work-life challenges.

The administration’s continued efforts to strip deportation protections and work authorization from nearly 700,000 DACA recipients—including those working in health care occupations—stand in stark contrast to the extraordinary efforts being taken by state officials and medical schools around the country to remove barriers in order to allow more foreign-educated health care professionals and current students to put their skills to work. The COVID-19 pandemic—illustrated by the widespread social distancing guidance with which most Americans are living today—drives home just how interdependent we all are. DACA recipients are woven into the fabric of our communities, and if the court allows the administration to recklessly end the program now, we will all suffer the consequences.

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