Immigration, Racism, Pandemic: Policy and Practice Implications
Immigrants in the United States are among the most vulnerable of all Americans. The frightening reality is that U.S. immigration policy has terrorized our immigrant neighbors for the past 4 years. Immigrant families have been in desperation mode, fearful of being swept up in deportation raids - even those who have been here for decades, even those who have recognized resident or citizen status. The prior Administration sought to block immigrants, asylees or refugees from many countries from entering the country, especially those of “color," even those who have completed the already strict vetting process. Recent government policy belies America’s history of welcome for immigrants, although it is a very mixed history. In many ways, our story of immigration is a myth. This relentless and multipronged attack on immigrants is only the tip of the iceberg: it indicates a wider, sustained assault on democracy, social justice and human rights in this country. Furthermore, as primarily people of color, immigrants have been especially vulnerable to the COVID pandemic. The damage perpetrated on immigrants will likely take years to repair, in terms of their health and mental health needs as well as their legal status and treatment at the hands of the immigration system. Even with the arrival of a new President and Administration, the cause of protecting our immigrant friends, family and neighbors is far from over. In this session, the first half will offer summary comments about immigration and racism, then discuss some of the philosophical and ethical implications of the issue. He will reflect on the Code of Ethics and moral theory for the grounding of our field's deep commitment and involvement in the immigration issue, covering the racist and prejudiced underpinnings and functioning of the American immigration system historically. The second half will be on the extent of COVID in immigrant communities and the health and mental health ramifications. Having engaged in extensive advocacy for Central American refugee mothers seeking asylum and visited detention centers in Texas, she will discuss the conditions of suffering in migration and in the U.S. detention facilities, highlighting the severely limited access they have to basic and desperately needed legal, health and mental health services.