The Effects of Covid-19 on Immigration in the US
While the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly affected the lives of everyone around the world, immigrants have had far more significant consequences from it. They continue to be accused of being the cause of the virus and have faced many economic hardships because of the pandemic.
Due to the pandemic, the Department of State canceled all visa appointments for immigrants and nonimmigrants, including immigrant visas for relatives of US citizens. Additionally, the Trump administration banned the entry of immigrants in lieu of protecting the economic interests of US citizens who faced hardships due to the pandemic. However, many recognized this as an excuse to not allow immigrants to come into the country, an idea that the former president had publicly agreed with.
In late 2021, Republican citizens in the United States expressed anger that illegal immigrants entering the US were not being tested for Covid-19 and asserted that they were spreading the dreaded variants to the states. This was primarily due to statements from political leaders, who influenced the beliefs of the citizen. They believed immigrants entering the US through the south Texas border were infecting Texans, and spreading the virus. However, immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci disagreed with these notions. He said the increase in Covid-19 cases was a problem within the US and was not correlated in any way to the surge of immigrants. His statements were supported by data showing Covid-19 hotspots in rural areas with minuscule immigrant populations. Other doctors also recognized that the surge in cases was mainly due to low vaccination rates rather than an increase in immigration. However, in spite of the plentiful evidence proving otherwise, many people continued to believe immigrants were the root cause of the spread of deadly Covid-19 variants, further increasing the stigma against immigrants.
Additionally, there were scares that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would be making arrests at hospitals, which prevented many illegal immigrants from going to the hospital for medical help with Covid-19. Due to this, the Biden administration created protected areas where ICE was not allowed to make arrests. These areas included schools, hospitals, and many other places. These protected areas were created so that immigrants would be allowed to participate in essential services and activities. The US Homeland Secretary suggested that it would be morally wrong to deny healthcare and education to people. These policies established by the Biden administration take away some power from the US Immigration authorities and is part of Biden’s plan to ease back immigration laws from what the former Trump administration had enforced.
ICE also houses many people in its detention facilities. ICE has continued to evaluate its detainees for symptoms with the help of medical professionals and detention experts, taking care to use safe medical protocols and protective equipment. In addition, all new detainees are tested for Covid-19 to ensure the safety of everybody, and detainees who are deemed high risk for Covid-19 by the CDC due to prior medical conditions are kept separate from the others for their own protection.