Durbin Discusses Legislation To Aid Immigrant Communities During COVID-19 Pandemic With ICIRR

SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, today had a call with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) to discuss immigration provisions in the House-passed Heroes Act.  Durbin has been fighting to include many of these provisions, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) work authorization extensions and expanded access to testing, treatment, and financial assistance to all families, in Senate COVID-19 relief legislation. 

On today’s call, Durbin also highlighted the DACA and TPS holders in Illinois and across the country who are working on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 as doctors, nurses, health care professionals, and in countless other essential job roles.  Despite their contributions to the American workforce, the Trump Administration is focused on arbitrarily ending the programs that allow approximately 131,300 TPS holders and 202,500 DACA recipients to serve on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19.

“I’m thankful for the leadership of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and all of the work they have done over the years to fight for some of the most vulnerable among us.  The COVID-19 public health crisis has made their work more important than ever,” Durbin said.  “This public health crisis has highlighted the fact that we are all in this together – regardless of immigration status, nationality, religion, gender, or race.  America is a nation of immigrants – it is our strength – and I will continue to fight for the health and safety of immigrants across this country during this pandemic and long after.”

Along with ICIRR, participants on today’s call included the HANA Center, Arab American Family Services, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Centro de Trajabadores Unidos, Communities United, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Mano a Mano Family Resource Center, Southwest Suburban Immigration Project, Syrian Community Network, and Logan Square Neighborhood Association.

Last month, Durbin led 37 Senators in a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to automatically extend work authorizations for DACA and TPS recipients and other impacted immigrants.

Durbin first introduced the Dream Act nineteen years ago.  In March 2019, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Durbin introduced the Dream Act of 2019.  The Dream Act was also included in the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill that Durbin and Graham coauthored as part of the “Gang of Eight” – four Democrats and four Republicans.  The 2013 bill passed the Senate on a strong bipartisan vote of 68-32, but the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives refused to consider it.

Durbin is also a cosponsor of the Coronavirus Immigrant Families Protection Act, which would, among other provisions, help ensure that all communities are able to access COVID-19 testing and treatment, and other relief services provided in coronavirus relief legislation.  It would provide dedicated funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct public outreach in multiple languages to hard-to-reach populations to ensure that vulnerable communities have access to COVID-19 relief measures and critical public health information.

Durbin has also been leading an initiative on the Senate floor to share the stories of #ImmigrantHealthHeroes, immigrants that are working on the front lines of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.  To date, Durbin has shared the stories of Manuel BernalDr. Ram Sanjeev Alur, and Javier Quiroz Castro.