Opinion – All Undocumented Immigrants Deserve Citizenship – Not Just Essential Workers
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to the large number of undocumented immigrants who work in “essential jobs,” ranging from agriculture to hospital workers. Many of them labor in workplaces like meatpacking where the virus is notoriously rampant, and few to no protections exist. Close to 11 million immigrants currently live in the United States without legal status. About eight million of these affected undocumented individuals (and at least hundreds of thousands more with DACA, TPS, or low-wage guestworker visas) are in the U.S. labor force.
As scholars of immigration and labor, we have examined the poverty wages and dangerous working conditions faced by immigrant workers even before the threat of Covid-19. Many of these workers are now held up as essential heroes who are feeding and caring for America. Meanwhile, they face a ramped up system of detention, deportation and surveillance under the Trump administration.