Durbin Discusses COVID-19 Health Disparities & Relief Programs With Illinois Latino Caucus

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) spoke with the Illinois Latino Caucus to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on Latinx Illinoisans and how the federal government can support communities of color in the health and economic needs during the pandemic. Latinx and Black Americans in the U.S. are three times more likely to become infected with coronavirus than their White counterparts, and are nearly twice as likely to die from the virus as White Americans.  These disparities exist in cities like Chicago, but also in rural towns and suburban counties.  Durbin was joined on the call by U.S. Representative Chuy Garcia (D-IL-04).

“Like so many other diseases and health conditions, the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected the Latinx community. Some Latinx Illinoisans are fearful of seeking medical treatment and services due to their legal status—waiting until their illness has progressed to such severity that it’s often too late for effective treatment. This is not right.  Every person in our country should be able to access coronavirus testing and treatment, regardless of race or ethnicity or income-level,” Durbin said. “There is so much we should be doing to benefit the Latinx communities in the midst of this pandemic – like prioritizing testing for communities of color,  increasing reimbursement for health care providers,  and making health care more accessible and affordable for all.  Additionally, it’s long past time for Senate Leader McConnell to call the American Dream and Promise Act to the floor for a vote so we can give Dreamers the chance they deserve to become citizens of the United States.”

“Latinos are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and we need to focus on collaborative solutions and targeted investments to respond to the virus effectively,” said García.  “The Illinois State Latino Legislative Caucus and I have continuously partnered to advocate for the resources to advance and protect our communities. We cannot ignore that this pandemic is affecting all aspects of daily life for Latinos, from employment to housing, and the Census  - we must all do our part to ensure essential workers as well as immigrant and mixed-status families are not treated as expendable.”

On the call, Durbin discussed provisions contained in the Heroes Act that he is fighting for in the Senate, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) work authorization extensions. Durbin also promised to continue pushing for Senate passage of the American Dream and Promise Act, which will establish a path to citizenship for Dreamers and immigrants with TPS. Durbin attempted to pass the bill last week on the Senate floor, but Senate Republicans objected. 

Lastly, Durbin discussed the Coronavirus Immigrant Families Protection Act, legislation he has cosponsored which would help ensure that all communities are able to access COVID-19 testing and treatment, and would extend eligibility for cash relief payments to mixed-status households and taxpayers with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers.