Over the last several years, immigration has been a hot topic across the United States. Many people in the U.S. from other countries often live in fear that they will not be allowed to remain in the land that has become their home. For many of these people, they have virtually never known another home if they were brought to the U.S. when they were very young. Now, the emerging Coronavirus pandemic brings new concerns to this population.
The Washington Tribune indicates that the United States immigration court system, which operates 68 courts around the country, has a backlog of at least one million cases. These include both cases in which a person is in custody and in which they are not in custody. In light of the Coronavirus outbreak, some of these courts will cease proceedings involving non-detained persons for the foreseeable future. One court, in Seattle, Washington, will close altogether until at least April 10. This decision was made after a secondhand exposure to COVID-19 occurred.
Among immigrants who may not necessarily have a pending court case, the impact of Coronavirus can be felt as well. The Texas Tribune reported that many people may be reticent to seek medical care if they feel unwell for fear that immigration agents or officers may conduct a raid at a hospital or other medical facility. The concern about potential deportation, it seems, may, therefore, exacerbate the nation’s pandemic spread.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has called on the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement agency to issue a public statement indicating it will cease all medical facility raids.