Undocumented Immigrants are Being Denied Covid-19 Vaccinations in Florida

Undocumented Immigrants are Being Denied Covid-19 Vaccinations in Florida

The Florida Immigration Coalition has reported that their immigration hotline is “blowing up” with calls from undocumented immigrants who have been repeatedly, and frustratingly, turned away from COVID-19 vaccination sites and centers.

Barriers to Vaccination for Immigrants

President Biden has unequivocally stated that everyone is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine regardless of their immigration status, even stating that no one should be turned away or experience fear of arrest when attempting to get a vaccine. However, Florida has state-specific conditions for vaccination, which require individuals to show a government issued photo ID, driver’s license, a utility bill with the individual’s name and a Florida address, or a rental agreement. These requirements necessarily exclude undocumented immigrants, many of whom do not have long-term rental agreements or utility bills in their name (both of which generally require a social security number and proof of identity), despite working in and contributing to the state’s economy.

All Talk and No Action

Many undocumented immigrants work on the nation’s frontlines and have been instrumental in keeping our nation’s agricultural economy operational during the pandemic. While thousands of memes circulated calling Florida’s agricultural workers “heroes” for continuing to harvest produce and supplying the nation’s grocery stores during the pandemic, now that a vaccine is available, no effort is being made on a state level to ensure these workers are protected. One worker stated that these actions are speaking louder than words, noting, “They see us as less, yet we work the most.”

If you need help with an immigration matter, it can be overwhelming, and be hard to even know where to start looking for help or what options are available. Our attorneys at HAWM Law are ready, experienced and committed to helping immigrants at any stage of the US immigration process. You do not have to struggle through this process alone.

Disparity and Impact

Many individuals reported being devastated after having to risk losing their job by requesting a few hours off of work to go wait in line for the vaccine, only to be turned away when they could not produce the required documents. Some returned dozens of times, going as early as 3:00 a.m. to ensure that they were first in line and able to explain their situation. However, they report being turned away again and again when they are unable to meet the discriminatory identification requirements. These individuals and communities have been turning to the Florida Immigration Coalition for help and advocacy. The center says that they have been receiving hundreds of calls from vulnerable frontline and essential workers who have been unable to access the vaccine, or are scared to attempt to access it, due to the identification requirements.

The Wider Harm

All states have some criteria for receiving the vaccination, and nearly all require some form of identification. Experts warn that this is having a detrimental impact on our ability to fight this virus as a nation, and is significantly slowing our path to recovery. Melissa Taveras, a spokesperson for the Florida Immigrant Coalition, stated that the solution is clear and shockingly simple: The CDC must simply issue a statement making it clear that no person should be denied a vaccine due to a lack of documentation.

Talk to a Florida Immigration Attorney

If you need help with an immigration-related issue or are interested in exploring your options for naturalization, the experienced immigration attorneys at HAWM Law can help. Contact us today and schedule a personalized consultation.

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