While Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced last week a $125 million in relief was found to help undocumented immigrants survive the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the rest of the country seems willing to sacrifice them.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been praised for his leadership and response after his state became the first focus of the pandemic in the country, said last Thursday that the economic situation in New York is critical, with a deficit of between $10 and $15 billion reducing the government’s options.
When asked about Newsom’s decision to give $500 to each of the 150,000 undocumented immigrants in his state who were unable to access the government’s stimulus package, Cuomo responded that, in his case, they were assessing the situation.
“When you are broke, it would be irresponsible to do these things,” Cuomo said.
With an estimated 1.2 million undocumented residents in New York State — representing 10 percent of the workforce, as in California — Governor Cuomo’s response has brought the “essential workers” debate back to the table at a critical time for the country.
Javier H. Valdes, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, told the New York Post: “It is frankly outrageous that Governor Cuomo refuses to meet the urgent needs of immigrant New Yorkers. As our community members are disproportionately affected by this crisis and left out of the government’s relief, the Governor continues to insist on austerity economics, protecting the billionaires from taxes while leaving immigrants on the front lines at grave risk of hunger, illness, and death.”
“We demand a full recovery for all, which must include direct cash assistance from New York State that prioritizes the needs of undocumented people,” Valdes added.
While New York has been one of the states that has most resisted the anti-immigrant measures of the Trump Administration — with measures such as authorizing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses — the Coronavirus pandemic puts this vulnerable population at double risk of precariousness.
That’s why Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an Immigrant Emergency Relief program that will be supported by a $20 million grant from the George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, and will provide “emergency cash to up to 20,000 immigrants, including those who are undocumented,” according to the Post.
Individuals will be eligible for $400, couples $800 and a family with kids $1,000. “Immigrants are the heart of this City — they are our friends, neighbors and colleagues,” said de Blasio, who thanked the foundations for the donation.