Thursday, September 23

New York for All | The NY Journal


New York for All

Screening for COVID-19 and vaccines will be part of our lives in the future. /Archive

Photo: JOHN G. MABANGLO / EFE

Immigrant communities are the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and a lot of work is still needed to address the challenges and hardships that began in 2020 and still continue. After working in places most exposed to the virus during the toughest days of the pandemic and experiencing the highest rates of transmission and death, New York immigrants now face the dilemma of whether and how to get vaccinated.

Vaccination programs will not work unless communities accept and trust the public health system. Especially for immigrant communities, the willingness to trust public programs has been severely damaged after four years of the Trump presidency. Now, a proposed bill in Albany can help regain that confidence.

The proposed New York for All Act, introduced in the state legislature, would be an essential part of improving the confidence needed to contain the virus and ensure that our immigrant communities feel safe to get vaccinated. State legislators should pass it and the governor sign it into law this year.

The bill would formally prohibit state and local government officials, including police and sheriffs, from releasing confidential information or diverting personal data and resources to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

The legacy of indiscriminate arrests, population profiles, and deportations from previous administrations is of great importance. But the responsibility for generating fear and terror in immigrant communities does not rest solely with ICE and the federal government. State and local law enforcement have played an important role in creating the distrust that immigrant communities feel toward the government.

Shamefully, police have been accused of participating in public health responses to the pandemic, including making arrests for non-social distancing, not wearing masks, over-surveillance, and even being part of contact tracing for COVID infections. -19. The law enforcement legacy of contributing to deportations gives immigrant communities every reason to distrust their role in public health.

When immigrants try to get tested for COVID-19, support contact tracing for COVID-19, or get vaccinated, they should feel confident that doing so will not put them or their families at risk. We need to ensure stronger protections for our immigrant communities and to overcome fear and unjust deportations.

Screening for COVID-19 and vaccinations will be a part of our lives in the future, and we can ensure that everyone can protect their health and live safely in our communities.

The enactment of the New York for All Act will be an essential part of building the community trust necessary to contain the coronavirus and ensure that our immigrant communities feel safe in obtaining essential health care and support services.

-Guillermo Chacón is an activist for human rights and immigrants. @ gchacon11


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