The chairman of the U.S. bishops' migration committee told a House subcommittee Sept. 23 that any stimulus bill Congress is considering must include assistance for immigrant and refugee families and also make them eligible for past stimulus relief.
Many immigrants and refugees in this country are among the front-line essential workers the country has relied on during this pandemic, said Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington.
Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, he made the comments in written testimony to the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship during its hearing on "Immigrants as Essential Workers During COVID-19."
"Immigrants and refugees are a blessing to our country," the bishop said. "The church teaches that every human being is created in God's image and deserves dignity and respect and that human labor has an inherent dignity, allowing all to share in the ongoing work of creation, while providing the resources to build and sustain families."
"The contributions of essential workers have become undoubtedly more important during COVID-19," he continued. "While many essential workers are U.S. citizens, many are also immigrants and refugees. Immigrants comprise 31% of U.S. agricultural employees ... (and) they risk their own safety to support their families and to ensure continuity in the nation's food supply chains."
Immigrant and refugees who are essential workers also are "highly vulnerable" to COVID-19 and "less likely to have access to medical care," Bishop Dorsonville noted.
And so far, "they have been completely left out" of any federal stimulus package offering financial help to many segments of the U.S. workforce and U.S. families, he said.
"We urge Congress to include immigrant and refugee families in any future COVID-19 relief as well as be made eligible for past relief efforts," he said.
"Additionally," Bishop Dorsonville said, "we continue to advocate Congress for a path to citizenship for undocumented workers who have been living, working and contributing to our country. As Pope Francis states: No one must be left behind."