More than 450 mostly leftist academics and activists sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence on Monday listing a series of demands for fighting the spread of the coronavirus in the United States, including ensuring “immigration enforcement-free zones so that immigration status does not prevent a person from seeking care.”
“The COVID-19 response should not be linked to immigration enforcement in any manner,” the letter stated. “It will undermine individual and collective health if individuals do not feel safe to utilize care and respond to inquiries from public health officials, for example during contact tracing.”
“Similar enforcement-free zones have been declared during hurricanes and other emergencies, including after the September 11 terrorist attacks,” the letter stated. “These policies should be clearly and unequivocally articulated to the public by the federal, state, and local governments.”
The letter to Pence, who President Donald Trump tapped to head up the federal effort to fight the China-originated virus, also makes other demands, including increased federal spending and “fair” infection control.
“A successful American response to the COVID-19 pandemic must protect the health and human rights of everyone in the U.S,” the letter stated. “One of the greatest challenges ahead is to make sure that the burdens of COVID-19, and our response measures, do not fall unfairly on people in society who are vulnerable because of their economic, social, or health status.”
“We write as experts in public health, law, and human rights, with experience in previous pandemic responses, to set forth principles and practices that should guide the efforts against COVID-19 in the U.S.,” the letter stated. “It is essential that all institutions, public and private, address the following critical concerns through new legislation, institutional policies, leadership and spending.”
You can read the list of individuals who signed the letter here.
The organizations that signed onto the letter include Broken No More, Amnesty International USA, The Public Health Advocacy Institute, Big Cities Health Coalition, Prevention Point Pittsburgh, Any Positive Change, EcoHealth Alliance, Children’s Aid, American Public Health Association, The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, The Mountain Center in New Mexico, Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights, The National Health Law Program, and Collaborative for Health Equity Cook County.
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter.