Thousands of Dreamers are on the healthcare frontline caring for COVID-19 patients, and in three states, have never been more needed, the Los Angeles Times reported.
A majority of the 27,000 healthcare workers protected from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy live and work in Arizona, California, or Texas — the three states where the rate of new infections is accelerating, the L.A. Times reported.
“They are our front-line workers helping aid those who are most ill,” Ricardo Zamudio Guillen, organizing director for LUCHA, an Arizona-based immigrant rights group, told the news outlet. “They’re protecting us.”
The pandemic has killed more than 114,000 Americans, data shows.
“I’ve never felt more needed at my job than right now,” Karen Garcia, a nurse who works at Valleywise Health Medical Center in Phoenix, told the news outlet.
Garcia is among the roughly 700,000 so-called Dreamers who came to the United States as children, grew up without legal status and were allowed to stay under the Obama-era DACA policy.
She then obtained get her degree at GateWay Community College.
In February, when the coronavirus began to spread throughout the country, her hospital took steps to prepare for a surge that has finally hit, the news outlet reported.
“Everyone is working around the clock,” she told the Times. “We’re trying to save lives. That’s my job — helping to save lives.
“I’ve tried not to think about my immigration status while working, but it’s always there in the back of my mind.”
Garcia said she sees the Supreme Court ruling blocking an effort by the Trump administration to end DACA as an opportunity to help promote more DACA nurses in the city and across Arizona, which is estimated to need an additional 1,200 nurses by 2030.
“We can help fill that void,” she told the news outlet.
Arizona has recorded 41,159 coronavirus cases and 1,252 deaths, with Phoenix and surrounding Maricopa County among the hardest hit, the Times reported.
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