PANDEMIC work or not - immigrants' superb work has always been crucial to the Super Power : The United States of America :

Recently, as I drove home from a long day of work as a home health aide, a police cruiser appeared behind me with lights flashing. It was 10 p.m. and the roads were nearly empty. As I pulled to the side of the road, my heart was pounding.

As a black man from Uganda, I WAS NERVOUS. Charlie Baker, the governor of Massachusetts, had just issued a 9 p.m. curfew across the state.

In the three excruciatingly long minutes it took for the the officer to approach my car, I tried to sort out why I was being stopped and what would happen next.

When the officer appeared at my window, he asked just one question : ''Essential Worker?''. I quickly replied that I was. He waived me off without asking for my driver's license - my skin color told him everything he needed to know.

Many black people in America are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, working as caregivers, health care professionals, grocery store workers, delivery people and other essential service providers.

In rural areas around the country, hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants work as a field hands and in factories and warehouses to ensure the nation's food chain continues to function.

The work immigrants do has always been essential - it's just not often recognized as such.

After the public health crisis is over, will we find the political will to change things, or will populist politicians return to demonize immigrants as dangerous criminals, job stealers or parasites feeding on tax funded public assistance?

For the moment, essential workers have mostly been spared unjustifiable scrutiny by law enforcement. And many are finally able to enjoy work-related benefits that their employers have long resisted.

In Massachusetts, employment agencies are advertising jobs for caregivers that pay between $25 and $30 an hour, well above the pre-pandemic hourly rate of $12 to $15. There have also been plenty of overtime opportunities, with the hourly rate one and half times the normal wage.

Even as the benefits have doubled, the challenges of working on the front lines have multiplied.

My younger brother, Wahab, works as a licensed practical nurse in a nursing home. He has seen an increasing number of patients testing positive for the coronavirus.

My brother mourns for these patients. He cared for some of them for over a year and had formed close bonds.

The honor and serving of this great post, continues. The World Students Society thanks author, Yasin Kakande, a journalist from Uganda currently working as home health aide. His most recent book is ''Why We Are Coming''.


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