Rep. Howard applauds ICE decision to halt immigration enforcement activities in face of coronavirus pandemic

MALVERN, March 19 – State Rep. Kristine Howard (D-Chester) applauded the decision of U.S. immigration authorities to halt enforcement activities as the nation deals with the coronavirus, an approach Howard proposed to members of Congress in a February 28th letter.

“This enormous swath of the population is less likely to seek medical treatment for fear of legal repercussions and deportation,” Howard said. “Allowing people to live in fear not only jeopardizes their own health, but the health of every individual in the state, the nation and the world.”

As a direct result of Howard’s outreach, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and other prominent senators sent a letter to the president’s Coronavirus Task Force, expressing “deep and urgent concern,” and calling on the Department of Homeland Security to “immediately stop all civil immigration enforcement activities occurring in or around public health departments, hospitals, medical clinics and centers, or coronavirus testing sites or laboratories.”

Immigration and customs enforcement officials announced its Enforcement and Removal Operations division will “delay enforcement actions” and use “alternatives to detention” amid the outbreak. ICE is halting enforcement across the nation, with the exception of efforts to deport foreign nationals who have committed crimes or who pose a threat to public safety.

“I am very happy to see steps are being taken to ensure everyone, documented and undocumented, have access to medical care. The health and safety of literally everyone must supersede immigration concerns at this time. Lives – yours, mine, our children’s – depend on it.”