Even the undocumented
need aid during crisis
I’m concerned about Virginia U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s vote against the Heroes Act. As the RTD reported on May 15, she criticized representatives who “have decided to use this package as an opportunity to make political statements and propose a bill that goes far beyond pandemic relief...” While Spanberger, D-7th, did not get specific, her "yes" vote on U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman’s (R-5th) motion to strip out payments to families that include undocumented members suggests she sees aid to undocumented people as unrelated to fighting the pandemic. If so, she is very wrong.
A major purpose of relief is to keep people in their homes and well-fed during the pandemic. That is important not just in itself, but because homeless, malnourished people are more likely to catch and spread COVID-19. It is in everybody’s interest for all to have safe shelter and food. Providing relief to undocumented immigrants is not liberal overreach; on the contrary, denying it only makes sense as part of a right-wing agenda to punish immigrants — which plainly is irrational in these urgent times.
Furthermore, there are 19.8 million immigrants working in critical infrastructure in the U.S., according to the Center for Migration Studies, 18% of the critical workforce. Of these, 5.5 million are undocumented. These people are not dispensable. They greatly contribute to the economy. Because relief goes through the IRS, the people who would receive it must have Taxpayer IDs; they are taxpayers like the rest of us.
Spanberger and the Virginia delegation should do what is best for Virginia and the U.S., which at this time means not discriminating against anyone who lives here. Every human is vulnerable to this virus, and for the sake of everyone, all residents need food and shelter.