FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 24, 2021
Yanci Nuñez: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Today, a panel of Central American and Haitian immigrants demanded immediate action from the Biden administration to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela nationals, among immigration policy priorities. In addition, they demanded Congress to include all people living in the United States –– regardless of immigration status –– in the next COVID-19 relief bill, and grant permanent protection to current TPS beneficiaries from Central America and Haiti.
In the town hall, led by Alianza Americas and Presente.org “How migrant communities face the pandemic, climate crisis and immigration policy,” panelists included Alejandro Rodríguez and Noe Ramírez, activists for constituencies with disabilities, and members of Living Hope Wheelchair Association, in Houston; Farah Larrieux, TPS holder from Haiti and member of the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC); Leticia Cacildo, Afro-Latina immigrant from Honduras impacted by the climate crisis and member of Familias Unidas en Acción (Families United in Action), New Orleans; and Lariza Dugan-Cuadra, Executive Director of the Central American Resource Center of San Francisco (CARECEN SF). The recording of the conversation is available here. *Most of the panelists spoke in Spanish. An English subtitled version will be available soon*.
Find remarks from participants below:
- Alejandro Rodríguez
On difficulties for migrants with disabilities facing the pandemic and the climate crisis
“Many people have fallen into crisis, and because of the pandemic they’ve been given emotional support via telephone. We (Living Hope Wheelchair Association) have worked hard to obtain resources and be able to provide economic support since the majority of us don’t have job security but need a lot of medicine. Now, the climate crisis is worse (seen in the winter storm in Texas). Many of us depend on electricity, and there are members of our community who are in electric wheelchairs, sleep in electric beds and others who survive on oxygen machines, and we weren’t prepared for that situation. We are calling on the government to include all people in vaccination efforts and in COVID-19 economic relief. Even though we are undocumented we still pay taxes.”
- Noe Ramíez
On difficulties for migrants with disabilities
“We keep on going despite having a disability. That’s why we’re asking that people with disabilities be included in any immigration reform. In our group (Living Hope Wheelchair Association) some people have died from COVID-19, we have lost our parents, our brothers and sisters, and it’s sad to not be able to travel (to our countries). It’s unfair because we have fought for this country. We also ask that migrant detention be brought under control because many people have been mistreated, and many haven’t been given their medicine nor medical treatment.”
- Farah Larrieux
On detention and deportation
“Things have not changed unfortunately. Despite the Biden moratorium to hold deportations, we see that ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and DHS (Department of Homeland Security) still deported people. Only in Haiti for the past months, it is reported as hundreds of people have been deported in Haiti and the conditions in Haiti are very bad.”
On wew TPS designation and permanent protection
“We hope that soon we will see the Administration to designate TPS for necessary countries (Haití, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Venezuela) and (for the) the legislators to work on the issue and pass the permanent solution that we’re looking for. We thank them for introducing the bill but we also need to buy time to make sure that we are not left out of the conversation about immigration policy change and immigration policy reform.”
- Leticia Casildo
On a new TPS designation
“When the pandemic began many people were talking about going back to their countries despite the challenges we face there, but then came hurricanes Eta and Iota which devastated Central America and the southern United States. How can we go back? We don’t have anything here and we don’t have anything there. It’s important for the government take action to approve TPS for the countries affected by hurricanes Eta and Iota – Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua – so that people have the opportunity to keep surviving and creating alternatives to support our families in our countries of origin and in the country where we live.”
On access to inclusive health care
“We are essential workers, we expose ourselves. Why is COVID-19 higher in our community? We cannot work from home. We need the COVID-19 vaccines and healthcare to be easy to access for our undocumented community. We need to be taken into account.”
- Lariza Dugan-Cuadra
On including immigrant communities in COVID-19 relief
“In this time of pandemic, one of the main things we’re fighting for is the inclusion of immigrants in COVID-19 relief. It’s hypocritical to hear the United States say that they are going to spend millions of dollars, which is important, to support vaccination in other countries with fewer resources. It is important and we applaud it, but the United States needs to begin in its own backyard by assuring that nobody is excluded from COVID-19 economic relief, small business loans, healthcare access, testing or vaccination.”
On a new TPS designation
“In these first 100 days of the Biden administration we have to apply pressure. We know that the theme of migration has become political, polarizing and central in political campaigns. We have heard nice words from the administration, but we are still saying that we are cautiously optimistic. In this moment we need to push forward using all tools possible in order to achieve some type of relief for immigrants in this country. We need (President Biden) to use executive orders, we know that President Biden could, if he wanted to, newly designate TPS for Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Haiti. It is one of our demands.”
On the detention of migrant children
“In the theme of child detention and the atrocious human rights violations we saw before and during the Trump administration, we are worried about the lack of creativity from this (Biden) administration. They are doing what they already know. Reopening a detention center in Florida that closed in 2019 for child rape is unacceptable. Those children must be released, they must be reunited and healed. These have been unforgivable crimes and this is a serious step backwards.”
Alianza Americas is a network of migrant-led organizations working in the United States and transnationally to create an inclusive, equitable and sustainable way of life for communities across North, Central and South America.
Presente.org is the nation’s largest online Latinx organizing group — and the nation’s premier Latinx digital organizing hub — advancing social justice with technology, media, and culture. Presente.org’s mission is to advance Latinx power and create winning campaigns that amplify Latinx voices; expand the political imagination and traditional boundaries; and foster inspiration for freedom, equity, and justice.
CARECEN SF empowers and responds to the needs, rights and aspirations of Latino, immigrant, and under-resourced families in the San Francisco Bay Area — building leadership to pursue self-determination and justice. Rooted in its cultural strengths and inspired by the Central American justice struggles, CARECEN SF envisions our diverse immigrant community as thriving; where families prosper, build effective community institutions, and participate confidently in civic life.
Familias Unidas en Acción was founded in 2018 with the vision of providing immigrant families in the greater New Orleans area and Louisiana with the resources needed to thrive in a new community without forgetting their own culture and history. We are the only community organization in New Orleans and Louisiana primarily focused on providing shelter and transitional support to recently arrived immigrant families.
The Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) is a statewide coalition of more than 65 member organizations and over 100 allies, founded in 1998 and formally incorporated in 2004 .We are led by our membership – grassroots and community organizations, farmworkers, youth, advocates, lawyers, unions and others.
Living Hope is community based non-profit organization serving people with spinal cord injuries as well as with other disabilities so that they may lead full and productive lives. Our group was founded by people with spinal cord injuries, the majority of our members are not entitled to benefits, lack medical insurance, and do not have a stable source of income. We provide services to our members and engage in community advocacy to achieve our goals.