A broad coalition of faith, civil rights, business and immigration organizations have launched a nationwide advertising to make the case that immigrants - regardless of status — are doing essential work on the front lines in the covid-19 response and recovery effort and helping keeping the nation safe and healthy.
“All of us are contributing to the covid-19 response and recovery. Immigrants are working shoulder-to-shoulder with native born Americans,” said Ali Noorani, president and CEO of the National Immigration Forum. “We’re helping people understand that the only way to beat covid-19 do that is we are all, truly, working together.”
At a time of increased fear about the spread of the virus, as well as the Trump administrations attempts to cut all forms of legal and illegal immigration, the #AllOfUS campaign focuses on the need to educate ordinary Americans, especially in conservative, rural areas, about critical role immigrants play in health care, the food supply, transportation and other vital jobs.
The launch includes a $165,000 ad buy in national media outlets including USA Today, op-eds in multiple outlets, and social media campaigns on Twitter and Facebook.
Founding members include chef José Andrés, the George W. Bush Institute, Postmates, the National Association of Evangelicals, the NAACP, Stand Together, UnidosUS, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Immigration Forum, and the Emerson Collective. A full list of founding members is available here.
Coalition members point out that at no time in recent memory has the contribution of migrant workers been more evident perhaps than the spread of the coronavirus in the meat packing industry in recent weeks, leading to the closure of numerous plants considered essentially to the food supply chain.
"Never been more obvious"
“While it has always been true that America is profoundly reliant on immigrant contributions, it has never been more obvious,” said Marshall Fitz, Managing Director of Immigration at the Emerson Collective.
“If we thought the contribution of nurses and doctors in nursing homes and hospitals was remarkable, for the immigrant community and the native born to be working in the meat packing plants, on the front lines of getting food to our tables, that’s a different type of courage,” said Noorani.
Hispanics alone make up more than 35 percent of the food processing plant workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with another estimated 30 percent being refugees, mostly from Africa and Asia.
Even before the covid-19 crisis, public health officials reported a shortage of workers in the health sector, including doctors and nurses. Ironically, in recent years, food processing plans across the country have come under attack by immigration enforcement agents seeking undocumented workers, with multiple arrests and deportations.
In an ironic twist, on Tuesday, President Trump declared that the meat packaging industry was so essential to the nation's food supply chain that he ordered them to remain open, even if immigrant workers become ill from the virus.
“We can’t magically of a sudden create tens of thousands of people who are trained as doctors, nurses, personal care attendants, farm workers,” said Noorani. “This is not a time for magic. This is a time for reality, and the reality is immigrants are working shoulder-to-shoulder with citizens in this response and recovery.”
The coalition is hoping its message resonates with conservative and moderate Americans, as well as evangelicals who reject the White House efforts to divide the country.
“As followers of Jesus, we seek to love our neighbors, protect the vulnerable and bless society. We urge the protection of and collaboration with our immigrant population," said Walter Kim, President of the National Association of Evangelicals.