Dreamers shouldn’t be excluded from the COVID-19 emergency aid

Pax+Ahimsa+Gethen+%7C+Wikimedia+Commons

Pax Ahimsa Gethen | Wikimedia Commons

Arianne Gonzalez

Recent stimulus bills and relief funds have been created to aid those most in need because of the coronavirus. However, not everyone meets the defined terms of eligibility.

The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, as established by the CARES Act, was created to provide grants for students affected by the disruption of college studies due to the virus, but this allocation has some very glaring omissions.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos ordered universities and colleges to grant emergency relief to students who are eligible for federal financial aid. This excludes the tens of thousands of undocumented students who are protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program.

Dreamers, as students under the DACA program are often called, are usually economically disadvantaged and are likely to be first generation college students. Yet, it seems the emergency relief fund would only be allocated to those who already have their Free Application for Federal Student Aid on file. Those who are most in need but have no FAFSA on file thus do not have a chance of getting emergency aid.

This is not the first time undocumented immigrants — or even legal immigrants — have been excluded from federal aid amid this pandemic. Some immigrants or those married to undocumented ones are left out of receiving coronavirus stimulus checks. Testing and treatment measures provided by Congress are only available to those who are eligible for federal Medicaid. That criteria excludes about 15 million immigrants, both documented and undocumented.

Not only is this criteria a detriment to public health for possibilities of greater community spread of the virus, but it is inhumane to let people be potentially exposed to COVID-19 and not know it or get any treatment because of this lack of access.

It is a time of crisis for everyone. The pandemic has already caused surges in unemployment and economic hardships. Yet, those suffering the most are somehow receiving the least help or no help at all merely because of their residency status.

This is quite ironic as well, considering DeVos wrote a letter that appealed to college and university presidents to “get support to those most in need as quickly as possible. That starts with college students whose lives have been disrupted, many of whom are facing financial challenges and struggling to make ends meet.”

Now is not the time for divisive politics to inform how the emergency funds are being used. The money should be directed to those who are in need, which includes legal and illegal immigrants alike. Now is the time for compassion and humanity to unite us and help each other during these stressful times.