Updates from Access Living: Immigration, Disability, and COVID-19


April 22, 2020 | by Amber Smock

Updates from Access Living: Immigration, Disability, and COVID-19

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

Today, we’d like to spotlight immigration and disability, particularly in light of the President’s tweet last night that he plans to close the U.S. borders. Regardless of the Covid-19 crisis, the fact remains that thousands of immigrants face serious challenges, including immigrants with disabilities both in this country and who are trying to get here.

Federal Judge Orders ICE to Review for Release All Persons with Covid-19 Risk Factors: On Monday, a federal judge in California issued an order for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to review the cases of everyone held in its custody, so that those at higher risk for COVID-19 can be released. This is an important step forward to protect immigrants with disabilities. See this link for a summary. The order was the result of a request for an emergency preliminary injunction filed by the attorneys in the Fraihat case.

Fraihat v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a national class action lawsuit filed on behalf of an estimated 55,000 immigrants with disabilities nationwide, claiming that ICE has failed to provide appropriate healthcare and reasonable accommodations to those it holds in detention. Per this article from Law360, the named plaintiffs are 15 ICE detainees “with a range of medical conditions, including diabetes, cerebral palsy, chronic pain, hypertension, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.”

U.S. Supreme Court DACA Decision Delayed, But Expected Soon: Immigration advocates expect that the U.S. Supreme Court will soon rule in a case involving whether to terminate the DACA program. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that started in 2012 under which the federal government exercised its discretion to delay removal of immigrants who arrived in the US as undocumented children. The fear is that termination fo DACA could result in the deportation of people with DACA status, also known as Dreamers. Learn more about the case and potential consequences here.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, over 600,000 people have DACA status, with hundreds of thousands more who could be eligible had the Trump administration not terminated the program in 2017. Among those with DACA status, over 20,000 are actively on the healthcare frontlines fighting Covid-19 (see this story). The Supreme Court has been asked to consider their contributions in deciding the case.

What can you do while we wait for the Supreme Court to decide? For those on social media, here is a toolkit you can use to help educate people about DACA and the Supreme Court. Access Living is also part of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which plans to have a Virtual Congress on Facebook the day that the Supreme Court makes its decision. Here is the link for the event for those who wish to join.

Support Access Living’s Work with Immigrants with Disabilities: Access Living’s Latinx and Immigration Community Organizer Michelle Garcia leads our immigration work. Michelle organizes the Access Living group Cambiando Vidas, and was recently featured in a WTTW segment about Covid-19 (see this link for the captioned video).


Michelle Garcia

Manager of Organizing and Community Development


(312) 640-2194