Undocumented immigrants in Florida have been routinely denied access to the COVID-19 vaccine, the Miami Herald reported Thursday.
A valid Florida driver’s license or government-issued I.D., utility bill or rental agreement is required to receive the vaccine, the Herald reported. Other undocumented immigrants who worked as essential workers across the U.S. haven’t been able to receive the vaccine, though some local governments are advocating for other proofs of residency so they will have access.
“What we feel is that they don’t want immigrants vaccinated,” Doris Mejia, an undocumented immigrant living in Florida told the Herald. “They see us as less, yet we work the most.”
In light of the admin’s focus on equity in response to the pandemic, my colleagues and I are urging @POTUS to ensure all individuals — including undocumented immigrants — can receive #COVID19 care without worrying how they will pay for it.
— Michael Bennet (@SenatorBennet) March 19, 2021
Mejia was denied vaccination five times in one month because she does not have a state-issued I.D., the Herald reported.
Many undocumented immigrants do not have long-term leases, according to the Herald. Leslie Fajardo arrived at a vaccination site at 3 a.m. and was sent home when the site opened at 8:30 a.m. because she did not meet the identification requirements.
“It’s my third time trying,” Fajardo said, the Herald reported. “I went with a group of coworkers and we all were told the same thing.”
Eligibility requirements are different in each state and accurately tracking vaccination accessibility based on migration status is challenging, according to the Herald.
“It’s slowing down our path to recovery,” National Immigration Law Center Executive Director Marielena Hincapié said, the Herald reported. “President Biden has been clear that anyone, regardless of their immigration status is eligible, for the COVID-19 vaccine, and yet we’re seeing people get turned away in some places as states and localities have adopted their own burdensome requirements for verifying eligibility.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden supports COVID-19 vaccines for immigrants regardless of their legal status or ability to provide documentation during a press conference on April 1.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could waive identification requirements for vaccine eligibility so undocumented immigrants and communities could access necessary health care, Hincapié said, the Herald reported.
The CDC provides recommendations on who should receive the COVID-19 vaccination but acknowledges that it’s ultimately up to state governments to decide who is eligible for the vaccine and how the shots will be administered.