Immigrant groups today demanded that New York reallocate funds for undocumented workers who did not receive help during the pandemic due to their legal status and who turned out to be the hardest hit by the ensuing crisis.
Street vendors, domestic workers or construction workers paralyzed traffic for several minutes in front of Governor Kathy Hochul’s office in the center of the city to claim the three billion dollars they have requested for the Excluded Workers Fund, created last year for those affected by the pandemic who were not beneficiaries of aid from the federal Congress.
Under the surveillance of a large group of policemen, the immigrants, who carried a giant banner in the form of a parachute, shouted to Hochul from the street “essential forever, excluded never again”, under the gaze of trapped drivers and curious passers-by. .
The organizers of the protest put several messages on social networks about the event, in one of them the governor is reminded that with the state of New York having a surplus in its budget, “New York needs solutions for the working class.”
.@GovKathyHochul, 🩹 won’t close the gaps in our safety net.
Amid a multi-billion surplus, New York needs working-class solutions:
— #FundExcludedWorkers (@FEWCoalition) January 19, 2022
After about five minutes, and under the warning of the police to allow passage under penalty of arrest, the immigrants moved to the entrance of the Hochul offices, where they formalized their claims.
Hochul presented the new state budget on Tuesday but it does not include this new item that could feed the already depleted Fund of 2,100 million dollars, the largest in the nation.
Applications began to be received in August, but in October they ran out of funds after distributing in just three months the $15,600 per family destined to pay rent and other debts accumulated by undocumented immigrants due to the loss of their income.
It is estimated that 50,000 families were left without receiving aid, and their situation worsens since the moratorium on evictions ended on Saturday.
One of those affected is the Mexican Socorro Martínez, whose husband, a construction worker, has not been able to return to work because the covid affected his lungs.
She, her husband and their three children were infected by the virus. “My husband spent three weeks in the hospital,” recalled the woman, who cleans houses three times a week to pay $700 a month for two bedrooms that they rent to a Mexican family. “My family depends on my income” and food stamps, Socorro said.
The workers carried signs with messages such as “essential forever”, “Hochul, if we fight we win”, “three billion is needed” or “immigrants are essential”.
Other demands of this group include that permits be granted to street vendors, who face the confiscation of their merchandise and a thousand dollars fine for not having authorization for this work with which they support their families, create health insurance and establish a fixed salary for workers who live on tips.
Like Martínez, Bolivian Wilfredo Zavala is among those left without help due to a shortage of funds.
Zavala, who emigrated ten years ago and has worked all kinds of jobs, lost his construction job during the pandemic: “The pandemic fell very heavy on me, my economy collapsed and I saw the need to apply for the Excluded Workers Fund, but unfortunately the funds ran out and there was none for me,” Zavala said.
“We immigrants move this country economically and it is not fair that we are excluded,” added Zavala.