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TOP unveils community demands to ease burden of COVID-19 outbreak on San Antonio, Bexar County residents

The Texas Organizing Project (TOP) today released a list of demands for City of San Antonio and Bexar County officials, as well as local business leaders to address the economic and health needs of local residents during the spread of COVID-19.

“In this time of uncertainty for many working families, we need our local officials and business leaders to step up in a big way and act on policies that will successfully combat the COVID-19 pandemic. This means investing in and targeting services for the most vulnerable among us,” said Michelle Tremillo, TOP executive director. “This includes low-wage workers without paid sick leave, immigrant families afraid to access health services due to the threat of deportation, detained and incarcerated individuals in crowded jails who cannot self-quarantine, and Black and Latino families who are burdened with the reality of being uninsured.”

With confirmed cases increasing at an exponential rate across the country, TOP is announcing these demands to spur local elected officials to prioritize the well-being of working-class San Antonio residents who will inevitably bear the brunt of the pandemic.

Economic protections for working families
We demand paid sick leave for all working families, a moratorium on evictions, and a halt to all utility shut-offs to ease the financial burden of COVID-19 recovery for San Antonio families. We demand:

  • The business community immediately drop its lawsuit and work with the City to enact the paid sick leave plan as developed by the Paid Sick Leave Commission in 2019
  • A moratorium on water, light, and gas cut-offs while expanding utility assistance programs
  • A moratorium on evictions and an expansion of rental assistance programs
  • Access to grants for small businesses to recover from forced closures
  • The citywide implementation of measures to eliminate price gouging and hoarding of supplies

“The current crisis underscores the need for Paid Sick Leave and exposes the weak points of our economic system. Our city leaders should understand that economic protections for working families are not only fair, but they are a necessary action to flatten the curve of the current COVID-19 pandemic and any future health crises.” – Bryan Ramirez, TOP member

Healthcare justice for all
We demand free testing, treatment and medical care for all families impacted by COVID-19 regardless of race, gender, religion, criminal background, or citizenship status. We believe that healthcare for all families, including COVID-19 testing, treatment, as well as access to other life-saving medications, should be a right. We demand not only these protections while this health crisis exists, but that the City of San Antonio and Bexar County support Medicare for All. We demand:

  • Clear communication that immigration status will not be a factor in receiving testing or treatment and ICE will not be present in any medical setting.
  • An expansion of mobile testing and an increase in the number of tests available in San Antonio
  • Free treatment and medication should be accessible to all-free of cost, regardless of income, race, gender, or status

“Having Medicare for All in place right now would do far better than our current healthcare system at ensuring the safety and health of every resident of San Antonio” – Ashley Longoria, TOP member

Right2Justice in Bexar County Jails
We demand measures be taken to reduce the number of detainees and to take steps to limit the spread of the COVID-19 within Bexar County Jails to the maximum extent possible.

  • Immediately educate the jail population on risks and precautions of the coronavirus.
  • Release all eligible pre-trial, immune-vulnerable and pregnant inmate populations. This release should also include those with ICE detainers.
  • Release all people who are within six months of completing their sentences unless they prove to impose a threat to our communities.
  • Suspend all probation, parole/ pretrial meetings, court-ordered classes, fines & fees as well as in-person drug testing.
  • Ensure electronic monitoring and home confinement conditions allow people to seek medical help and care for family members.
  • Provide free calls for people in jail.

“Our local, state and federal agencies need to step up and address this pandemic in a way that protects all people including those who are inside our prisons and jails. We are all in danger of this virus and those incarcerated have no way to self quarantine or even get the proper medical treatment to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” – Michael Roberts, TOP member

Ensuring the rights of immigrant familie
ICE has a track record of abuse and neglect toward immigrants in detention centers. This has resulted in a disturbing amount of people dying in the agency’s custody due to lack of basic medical attention. We demand the release of immigrant families, an end to local collaboration with ICE enforcement operations or raids, and humane medical attention for all immigrants.

  • Cease all local enforcement operations and suspension of any raids
  • Ensure all facilities where people are detained in ICE custody, be it county jails or dedicated facilities, are addressing the health and well-being of people detained

“With coronavirus spreading, we need to consider the health of all people, including those in the undocumented community. They are also potential victims of this pandemic, especially those that are in detention centers. The well-being of every person is important and it’s only fair that we achieve a change for these vulnerable people during these vulnerable times. We demand authorities to cease immigration enforcement and local cooperation, so that everyone, regardless of status, can receive testing and treatment for COVID-19 without the fear of deportation.” – Silvia Morales, TOP member

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Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris and Bexar counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.

This press release was sent out 3/16/2020.