How to protect the children of immigrants in the wake of COVID-19
Every facet of the lives of children and families are being disrupted during this historic public health and economic crisis. Unfortunately, both their short-term and long-term consequences and challenges are not being fully considered or discussed. This crisis is severe and will last for months or even years to come. Moreover, the resulting physical and mental health consequences, impact on education and child development, and economic implications of this calamity will last well beyond the coronavirus itself.
That is why First Focus Campaign for Children called on Congress to safeguard the physical, emotional, financial, and developmental health and well-being of our nation’s 74 million children with a specific package of legislative proposals across a range of issues — including immigration.
Children of immigrants are the fastest-growing group of American children, with 1 in 4 children (18 million) living in a household with at least one immigrant parent. Yet many children in these households, including citizen children, were largely excluded from previous aid packages. We remain gravely concerned about the health and safety of families and unaccompanied children seeking asylum or in detention facilities at our nation’s southern border. We ask for Congress to prioritize the well-being of all children, regardless of immigration status, by doing the following:
- Block the Public Charge Rule: Block the proposed public charge rule.
- End exclusion of Individuals with DACA status from Medicaid and CHIP: End the exclusion of children and individuals with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status from eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP.
- Extend All Work Permits: Automatically extend work permits for individuals with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or temporary protected status (TPS) as well as for all other immigrant and non-immigrant visas.
- Suspend Immigration Enforcement Actions: Suspend immigration enforcement actions, including arrests, deportations and detentions.
- End Policies that Prohibit Families and Unaccompanied Children from Seeking Asylum: End current government policies and border restrictions that prohibit families and unaccompanied children from seeking asylum, and instead expedite their parole in the United States and reunify unaccompanied children with any family living here.
- Release All Children in Federal Immigration Facilities: Release all children and families in federal immigration facilities, which have a dangerous lack of adequate medical and humanitarian standards for immigrant children and families.
For a full list of our specific policy recommendations across the array of children’s issues, check out our letter to Congress.