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Faith Williams: Strengthen America by strengthening all families

(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) Hundreds of “We are Dreamers,” a Utah pro-Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) group, marched in solidarity from the Utah Federal Building to the State Capitol with undocumented immigrants who will be affected by the end of DACA.

On March 27, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and a few thousand dollars appeared in the bank accounts of qualifying Americans. Its purpose was to maintain the economy and provide the necessary support to individuals during a time of heightened unemployment, uncertainty and health crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ironically enough, however, the bill was selective in who it CAREd for, excluding mixed-status families, immigrants actively (and legally) working through the arduous process of legalization, and taxpaying undocumented workers.
Contrary to widespread perception, and the racist and baseless claims perpetuated by some media, of the 10.6 million undocumented migrants in the United States, 66% have lived here for more than 10 years. In so many ways, they are established and integrated into our society.
Some 7.6 million of the total undocumented population are members of the formal workforce. A third are homeowners. And, collectively, they pay $12 billion in state and local taxes. Furthermore, a third of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and more than 130,000 temporary protected status holders are “essential workers.”
So, the pandemic raged on, and immigrants across the country — from New Orleans to New York, California to Texas — continued to perform tireless work on the front lines, saving the lives of their fellow Americans without sympathy, recognition or validation from the government.
In recent months, Republicans and Democrats have proposed a new stimulus bill— neither of which passed, and with the GOP measure failing to include even the most minimal immigrant aid provisions. As underrecognized but equally legitimate members of our communities, these families cannot and shouldn’t have to wait any longer for comprehensive, targeted and sufficient support.
I call on our Utah senators — Mitt Romney and Mike Lee — to be leaders in the Republican Party in this process. It should not be a revolutionary idea for America to take responsibility for the well-being of more than its white, middle-upper class, citizen families. (Not that it’s the first time that it’s been an issue.)

Both Romney and Lee have claimed to support the institution of the family. However, there have consistently been inconsistencies in the effectiveness and prioritization of their work on the matter.
Specifically, on Aug. 18, Lee wrote an article titled “Strengthen America by Strengthening Families,” in which he called for American society to do more to prioritize the family. But a critical review of his position unveils its insufficiencies in addressing the systemic inequalities and injustices known to be the culprits of much of the social problems he cites.
I ask Lee, how does his call to “strengthen the American family” line up with his opposition for a coronavirus relief bill that would do just that? Which families does he speak of?
America is home to millions of immigrants, and we cannot strengthen America without also strengthening them. I call on Lee and Romney to support relief legislation that includes all taxpaying individuals and their families and to actively work to legitimize the lives and experiences of immigrants.
I will continue to follow up with their offices, expecting this declared support for “the family” to be manifest in their support for legislation that supports all American families.
It is far past time to support mixed-status families, create pathways to citizenship, and expedite the passing of a stimulus bill that does not exclude our neighbors, colleagues, friends and family members based on their country of origin or legal status.

Faith Williams

Faith Williams is a senior at Brigham Young University studying sociology.
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