Posted on May 11, 2020

Immigrants — Essential, Ignored, Persecuted — Are Committed to the U.S. Where’s Our Gratitude?

León Krauze, Washington Post, May 11, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has shocked America’s economy, and one of the groups that has suffered greatly is the vast Hispanic community. A recent Washington Post-Ipsos poll captured the extent of the anguish: Latinos are almost twice as likely as whites to have been laid off or furloughed during the crisis. Unemployment among Hispanics has risen to 18.9 percent. More than one in five Hispanic men have either lost their jobs or seen their hours reduced.

Once again, Hispanics are paying the heftiest price: 21 percent said they had received some sort of unemployment benefits, almost 10 percent less than whites and 5 percent less than African Americans. Only 47 percent of Hispanics in the poll said they had benefited from the government’s massive federal stimulus. Among whites, the number is 67 percent.

The plight of undocumented people in the United States during the pandemic has been particularly incongruous and cruel. While the government has declared many within the undocumented community as essential — among them at least 1 million farmworkers — it has not only refused to help them directly in any significant way, but also persisted in their relentless persecution. Many of those deported carry the virus with them, back to countries that aren’t remotely ready to deal with an outbreak. In the meantime, Stephen Miller, President Trump’s de facto nativist czar, has continued to restrict immigration, making it harder to obtain legal residency in the country.

In such a hostile environment, it would be hard to fault the immigrant community if it simply chose to leave, turning its back on a country that, as journalist (and former farmworker) Alfredo Corchado recently put it, “wants to be fed” but also “wants to demonize the undocumented immigrants who make that happen.” {snip}