Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer called President Trump’s 60-day pause on some legal immigration a “phony immigration ban” as he and other top Democrats pleaded Tuesday for the government to automatically renew work permits for illegal immigrant “Dreamers” amid the coronavirus crisis.
Democrats are seizing on the crisis to argue that 200,000 Dreamers here under the Obama-era DACA deportation amnesty, as well as 130,000 other migrants here under special Temporary Protected Status, have proved their worth as essential workers.
Both categories are working on temporary renewable work permits, and the Democrats said the government must make sure those permits won’t run out, leaving both the immigrants and the country in the lurch.
“What do you think a health crisis without immigrants looks like?” said Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, who joined Mr. Schumer on a conference call.
They were joined by TPS and DACA recipients who said they are doing their part and who pleaded for immediate protections and asked Congress to step in if the administration won’t.
“My patients don’t care about my immigration status, they care about the high quality fo care that I am providing,” said Jose Aguiluz, a DACA holder who is on furlough from his emergency room nurse job and is instead volunteering at a COVID-19 drive-thru testing site in the Washington metropolitan region.
Democrats tried to insist on language in previous coronavirus bills extending federal assistance to illegal immigrants, and have previously announced legislation to renew hundreds of thousands of work permits that would expire in the next year.
Neither option has gained traction on Capitol Hill, but Mr. Schumer said stories like Mr. Aguiluz’s could change minds.
The president says those new immigrants would compete with Americans for jobs amid a rough economy.
“He uses immigrants as scapegoats,” the New York Democrat said.