NEWARK, N.J, – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) joined Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and a group of Deferred Action on Childhood Arrival (DACA) beneficiaries and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders in a press call to highlight the critical role immigrant workers are playing in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. While court decisions on DACA and TPS hang in the balance, an estimated 131,300 TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti, and 202,500 Dreamers are serving as essential workers. Unnecessarily removing over three hundred thousand workers covered by these programs would risk bringing supply chains, health care systems and American communities to a grinding halt.

Sen. Menendez authored an opinion piece published by Univision today in which he calls on the Trump Administration to automatically extend work permits for Dreamers and TPS holders who he refers to as the ‘invisible heroes of the pandemic.’

“Like so many Americans, these Dreamers and TPS holders are risking their lives every day in the fight against COVID-19. ?They are caring for the sick, working double shifts, comforting the dying, and often doing so without the personal protective gear they need. Regardless of their place of birth, these individuals undoubtedly represent the best of America. Yet the Trump Administration has put both DACA and TPS in its crosshairs,” said Sen. Menendez. “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. The health of our nation must come before this President’s anti-immigrant agenda, and we must keep up this fight together.”

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.

A recording of the press call with the senators and DACA and TPS immigrants is available here.