March 24, 2020 IN: Health, National, Our Voices, Press Room, Staff Blog
SEARAC statement on COVID-19 pandemic
Dear SEARAC community,
We hope you are keeping safe amidst so much fear and insecurity around the world with the recent COVID-19 pandemic. In these unprecedented times, our communities are hurting. Our Southeast Asian American (SEAA) elders are more vulnerable than ever before to physical illness. Our loved ones with final orders of removal are facing heightened targeting by ICE, which now seeks to focus removal efforts on those with criminal records. Our children have lost the safety and security that their classrooms and teachers provide for them in their schools. And like all Asian Americans around the country, we face additional fears of racist words and acts due to the president’s hateful rhetoric around the origin of this virus.
Sadly, this worldwide crisis has shed light on the shortcomings of policies that have repeatedly designated low-income immigrants and refugees as the least of our nation’s priorities. It is time to stop using band-aid solutions to address systemic inequity in our country, which have only been exacerbated during this outbreak. As Congress negotiates an economic stimulus package this week, we urge moral courage and leadership of our elected officials by supporting policies that:
- Ensure access to equitable and culturally responsive healthcare and testing for all, regardless of immigration status,
- Expand government social services that will guarantee food, housing, and economic security for all, regardless of immigration status,
- Decarcerate our prisons and ICE detention centers, particularly for older individuals and those with health concerns, and
- Support schools in finding innovative ways to reach all vulnerable students, regardless of income level.
We call on this Administration to uphold the fundamental human rights of all persons living in this country, and to focus its efforts on unifying the country to practice safe social distancing instead of using language to point fingers, encourage racist acts, and downplay the severity of this pandemic.
Now is the time for us to hold each other close, be kind to one another, and take care of the most vulnerable in our communities. Our families are resilient. We have survived war, unspeakable trauma, and displacement, and we will survive this pandemic. We will make our ancestors proud. Tomorrow is a new day, and we are in this together.