Ady Barkan to Nancy Pelosi: Put the Least Among Us First

Ady Barkan to Nancy Pelosi: Put the Least Among Us First

Ady Barkan to Nancy Pelosi: Put the Least Among Us First

All taxpayers, including the undocumented, must receive direct cash support.


EDITOR’S NOTE: The Nation believes that helping readers stay informed about the impact of the coronavirus crisis is a form of public service. For that reason, this article, and all of our coronavirus coverage, is now free. Please subscribe to support our writers and staff, and stay healthy.

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

I am sitting perfectly still in bed now, late at night, writing to you with just the darting of my pupils. The only noise is the rhythmic pulsing of my ventilator, pushing air into and out of my lungs. Keeping me alive.

As I write this, I feel humble, fearful, and compelled. Humble because you have incomparably more information and experience than I do about this legislative struggle—about any legislative struggle. Fearful, because I have looked at the graphs and read the stories from Italy; because you and I and my father in New York City are all at high risk; because I see the economy collapsing all around us, and I know how much immense pain it will cause.

And therefore I feel compelled to share my unsolicited opinion, my unsolicited plea. I fear that—because of the president’s selfish, malevolent incompetence—we will soon experience hundreds of thousands of American deaths, including perhaps mine or yours, and a great depression.

This momentous challenge demands a proportionate response, and you are in a position of power now. The Republicans need your cooperation. They must grapple with what you pass. Mitch McConnell cannot simply file it away, like he has so often in the past. This moment, this bill, this is your chance to save the American economy and millions of families from misery. This is your opportunity, our opportunity, to begin to build a more equitable America. I urge you to embrace the bold solutions being put forward by Chairwoman Maxine Waters and the Progressive Caucus. The American people deserve all the help we can get.

Of the many crucial interventions that are needed, I want to appeal to you about one, in particular: Ensuring that all taxpayers, including the undocumented who pay taxes with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers rather than Social Security numbers, receive direct cash support. Undocumented immigrant workers carry enormous weight in our society, and receive so little in return. They are helping us all survive during this shutdown, delivering food, working in warehouses, and providing health services. And the economic crisis is especially fierce in the hospitality industry in which so many of them work.

For years, Republicans have blocked immigrants from a path to citizenship and stability. Now, in this moment of crisis, I plead with you to put the least among us first. Prioritize their needs in your negotiations.

The world is so unpredictable. And yet I am confident in saying this: The decisions Congress makes in these days and weeks will be studied for generations. I know that you and your caucus can rise to the occasion. You can be our saviors.

In solidarity, with gratitude,



Ad Policy