The spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is unprecedented, and it will take all of us working together and utilizing our collective expertise to respond appropriately, effectively, and fairly. The ACLU is working to ensure a response that is scientifically justified and no more intrusive upon civil liberties than absolutely necessary. In particular, we are providing guidance to our elected officials on crafting a response that protects the populations most vulnerable to harm, including working Mainers, immigrants, and those involved in the criminal legal system.
Nobody should be afraid to seek medical care for fear of immigration enforcement. Please be advised that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has stated that it does not conduct enforcement operations at medical facilities, except under extraordinary circumstances.
Criminal Legal System
People in jail are highly vulnerable to outbreaks of contagious illnesses. They are housed in close quarters and are often in poor health. And, many people in Maine’s jails are older and more vulnerable to medical risks. Without the active engagement of the jail administration, they have little ability to inform themselves about preventive measures, or to take such measures if they do manage to learn of them.
With presidential primaries and the general election coming up, the spread of COVID-19 could soon directly impact the ability of Americans to participate in our democracy. For many - including people who vote in Maine - the safest way to vote will be no-excuse absentee voting by mail. However, there are still 17 states that don't offer this option. Congress must take federal action to protect our elections while the pandemic is ongoing.
Maine must support people who cannot afford to miss work or who lack paid sick leave. All Mainers face increased risk if people hide their condition and go to work because they can't afford not to. The government must work with employers to ensure all workers are supported in voluntarily staying home when sick. Further, we must support children who are home because schools have closed. All students must have equal access to an education, regardless of whether they have access to the internet or other resources.