Immigrant Community Faces Health, Job Insecurity During Coronavirus Crisis

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Coronavirus, Cuomo, Diocese of Immigrants, Faith, Immigrants, Immigration, Immigration Reform, Queens, NY

By Emily Drooby 

Analilia makes ends meet working as a cleaner in New York City, but the COVID-19 crisis has threatened her job.

“So, I can’t pay my rent, my electricity, my phone. I can’t buy food. And it’s not just me. I think that all the workers who are living day to day, with a salary, they can’t do it. They can’t buy their food, pay their bills, their rent,” said Analilia, whose last name has been omitted for safety purposes.

Analilia is an immigrant originally from Mexico. She is a member of Worker’s Justice Project. Like a union, the group uses advocacy, organization and education to make sure immigrants have good working conditions. Their people have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.

“What’s happening is that all the employers are scared, like they can have the virus,” explained Anel, who is also a member.

The virus has crippled the American job market and caused millions of people to file for unemployment benefits.

Many of the people who belong to Worker’s Justice Project can’t do that. In fact, because they’re undocumented many don’t quality for paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, or even the governments bailout.

Without access to these programs, they’re left to fend for themselves during this difficult time. They’re afraid of not being able to pay their bills and of getting sick.

“There aren’t benefits, there’s nothing to support us,” said Yesenia, who has been working as a community organizer for Worker’s Justice Project. “There isn’t a way to pay the rent, we have kids, we need to eat, we need medical attention.”

Deportation is also another fear, one so serious it has even kept some sick Worker’s Justice Project members away from the hospitals.

ICE has announced they’ll delay some removal operations because of health concerns but will continue to conduct others, especially if the person is deemed to be a public safety risk. The limits are very vague.

Worker’s Justice Project is trying to help those who are struggling. Some of their members have been making and selling masks, in an effort to both provide cheaper masks and to make some extra money during this difficult time.

The organization has also set up a donation page. It can be accessed through their website. So far they have raised $4,000 of their $50,000 goal. The money will support 300 families during this difficult time.