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  • Writer's pictureJennie Cottle

Weekly News: our selection of weekly analysis on immigration and refugee policies and human rights

Every week, Policy Shift will share a selection of recent articles and publications focused on public policy and innovation. This week's theme deals with immigration policies, migrant rights and refugee programs and analysis.

As governments face the ongoing crisis related to COVID-19, we have seen migrants, refugees and asylum seekers facing increasingly hostile and threatening circumstances. In this light, Policy Shift’s news this week will bring together articles related to the governments, international organizations and migrants’ rights groups that are working to protect some of our most vulnerable populations.

In Portugal, the government has shown itself to be ahead of the curve among its EU neighbors by allowing all asylum seekers in the country to have access to the same rights and services of its citizens until July 1st, or longer, in response to the coronavirus outbreak. These individuals will gain access to “the national health service, welfare benefits, bank accounts, and work and rental contracts.” In an interview with Reuters, Claudia Veloso, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs explained, “In these exceptional times, the rights of migrants must be guaranteed.”

Certain measures have been taken to help ease the concern over residence and visa permits by other governments as well. According to the International Organization for Migration, “the French government extended all residence permits by three months starting on March 16, thereby guaranteeing access to health care and social security for those who might otherwise be vulnerable due to expirations during the pandemic.”

Several other countries are also extending visa and residence permits that would have expired during the next several months to ensure that residents can continue to maintain access to government services during this time.

The IOM is hosting the twelfth year of the PLURAL+ Youth Video Festival, organized jointly with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC). The event brings together young people under the age of 25 to “to submit original and creative short films conveying constructive messages related to the themes of migration, diversity, social inclusion, and the prevention of xenophobia.”

This year’s message is particularly important. As Mr. António Vitorino, the Director General of IOM emphasized, “as the whole world fights COVID- 19, it's clear that the virus does not discriminate against anyone, including migrants. Therefore, now is the time to show the key role of the PLURAL+ themes of social cohesion, diversity and prevention of xenophobia in defeating the virus and build a better world together.”

In the United States, questions and concerns have been raised on access to healthcare for uninsured individuals, particularly for undocumented residents. While access to health services has already been difficult for undocumented or uninsured residents in the U.S. before the outbreak of the pandemic, immigrant rights groups are mobilizing to encourage the government to include these groups in the recently passed relief package. Around the U.S., we see local actors standing up to demand justice for their basic human rights and needs to be met.

For more information on access to health services for immigrants in the U.S. and responses by NGOs, please refer to our article selection below.

Photo Credit: Jennie Cottle, CARACEN Los Angeles

Articles on access to health services for immigrants:

From the New England Journal of Medicine: Undocumented U.S. Immigrants and Covid-19

Immigrant Rights Groups' responses:

From the Immigrant Legal Resource Center: Coronavirus and Immigration: ILRC’s Resources and Responses

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