One fear among many in the immigrant community is that immigration officials would use an excuse like the coronavirus to raid hospitals and find those who may be in the country illegally. It would be a worst-case scenario for those with loved ones who are sick or hurting.
It’s been a concern that undocumented immigrants may not receive the care they need when appearing at hospitals with symptoms of the coronavirus. Fortunately, the historical answer is that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as well as the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), won’t perform immigration enforcement in sensitive areas like places of worship, schools or hospitals, unless there are exigent circumstances.
Though there is no official news on whether the government will declare health care facilities as enforcement-free zones as the virus spreads, ICE has said that hospitals with the virus won’t fall under exigent circumstances. ICE sent an email that encouraged anyone who was showing signs of the virus or any medical condition to promptly seek medical attention without hesitation. This is great news for all undocumented individuals who were previously concerned about seeking help for medical concerns.
While many immigrants do come to the United States legally and have no reason to be concerned, some people or their families fall into the undocumented community and may be worried about deportation. If you’re one of those people, it may be wise to speak with an immigration attorney about options such as seeking asylum or being sponsored to stay in the United States. It is not fair to you to have to worry about your ability to stay in the United States, and there may be options to help you secure your residency or citizenship.