NJ Immigrants Are ‘Invisible Heroes Of Pandemic’: Sen. Menendez

·3 min read

NEWARK, NJ — There are an estimated 12,500 essential workers – all immigrants – working on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis in New Jersey. And together, they are the “invisible heroes of the pandemic,” U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez says.

As New Jersey battles the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the nation, Menendez offered a big thank you to thousands of Deferred Action on Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients and workers with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) status who are placing themselves in harm’s way.

Some are working in health care. Others are employed in education or food-related industries. But they all share a common bond: they deserve a break when it comes to their immigration status, Menendez said.

According to the senator:

“As New Jersey battles the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the nation, 5,000 DACA recipients in the state are working in health care, education, and food-related occupations. Dreamers like Daysi, a nursing student from Monmouth County is already doing lifesaving work as a patient care technician at a New Jersey hospital. Likewise, there are 7,500 essential workers with TPS status, including TPS holders like Madelia Cartagena from Newark, who arrived from El Salvador 21 years ago with her husband. The company Madelia has worked at for the last 17 years is working non-stop to satisfy the increased demand for hand sanitizer dispensers.”

“Like so many Americans, these Dreamers and TPS holders are risking their lives every day in the fight against COVID-19,” Menendez said Tuesday.

“They are caring for the sick, working double shifts, comforting the dying, and often doing so without the personal protective gear they need,” the senator continued. “Regardless of their place of birth, these individuals undoubtedly represent the best of America.”

This makes it all the more ironic that many of them may be forced to leave the country they’ve grown to love, Menendez said, referring to ongoing legal struggles involving DACA and TPS in the nation’s courts.

“To rip Dreamers and TPS holders out of the workforce and tear their families apart in the midst of a harrowing global pandemic and brutal economic downturn would be nothing short of catastrophic,” Menendez said. “The health of our nation must come before this president’s anti-immigrant agenda, and we must keep up this fight together.”

Send local news tips and correction requests to eric.kiefer@patch.com

Don’t forget to visit the Patch Newark Facebook page. Learn more about posting announcements or events to your local Patch site. Sign up for Patch email newsletters.

This article originally appeared on the Newark Patch