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New York, NY – On Tuesday afternoon, about 100 cars are participating with New York immigrant day laborers, worker centers and allies in a “covid-safe car protest” in front of the Governor’s office on 3rd Avenue in Manhattan. The protest in New York, over 3 blocks long, comes after Governor Cuomo cited funding limitations to excuse the continued exclusion of over half a million immigrant workers statewide.
“As the base of the economy, immigrant workers deserve getting back what they give out to society,” said Adriana Escandón M. of the Brooklyn-based Worker’s Justice Project, who herself is recovering from covid19 and was covering the Caravan on Radio Jornalera from her home.
On Friday, fifty organizations signed a letter to Gov Andrew Cuomo, calling for immediate assistance for New York’s undocumented workers and families.
“During this crisis it has been essential workers who have held our economy and communities together. It is time that the state recognize the labor of essential workers, the most exposed, and include them in any future relief efforts,” said Charlie Uruchima of NYCOSH.
The federal stimulus package has fully excluded millions of undocumented workers and families nationwide, who are also excluded from unemployment insurance, leaving an enormous gap between immigrants and life-saving assistance.
Dozens of workers and civil rights organizations supported the Caravan of Essential and Excluded workers on Tuesday and shared the following statements.
“Undocumented workers are the backbone of the NYS economy. Due to the COVID 19 emergency crisis, thousands of them have lost their jobs and are left without any support to meet their most basic needs. The government needs to meet its social responsibility for these workers who on top of not having job security, being constant victims of millions of dollars in wage theft, nor access to affordable medical care are losing their loved ones to the pandemic,” said Adriana Escandón M. of the Brooklyn-based Worker’s Justice Project.
“Undocumented workers are fueling $40 billion into the economy, they make New York great,” said Jackie Agudelo, Executive Director of the United Community Center (UCC) of Westchester. “And if New York receives billions in taxes from undocumented workers, it’s their money, and today, it’s their right to receive that emergency stimulus now.”
“Let’s be clear, essential workers, regardless of status, should get essential treatment,” said Aziz Bah, member and grassroots leader of the Independent Drivers Guild, a worker organization that participated in the Caravan of Essential and Excluded workers.
“The gendered nature of this crisis and how it intersects with migratory status must be addressed. On the one hand, undocumented women perform most of the unpaid care work at home which, in the absence of socialized care work systems, has dramatically increased. On the other, they are a majority of low wage care workers, whose work is deemed essential, but in practice their lives are being treated as dispensable,” said Ximena, of the Women’s Strike NYC that supported the Caravan.
“Covid-19 has shown us how profit is valued over people and a true side of capitalism. With white supremacy, racism, hatred, and divisiveness in power, there can be no such thing as ‘us’ and ‘them.’ It must be about all of us,” said Jorge Torres, NDLON Regional Coordinator.
“As we say in the day laborer community, ‘solo el pueblo salva al pueblo’ – only the people can save the people. So what about New York, Governor, y nosotros que?” added Torres.