New York, NY – On Friday, day laborer organizations from across the metropolitan New York City area again called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to provide immediate relief for all immigrants. In a digital press conference on Friday morning, day laborers shared powerful stories of the physical and psychological toll of the pandemic, of exclusion from federal assistance, and of losing loved ones to covid-19 (excerpts below and video available for download).
Also on Friday, 48 organizations that work closely with day laborers and low wage workers in New York delivered a letter to Governor Cuomo calling for immediate action to ensure that New York state rejects the federal exclusion of undocumented workers.
In response to statements on Thursday by Governor Cuomo justifying the exclusion of immigrants from relief, Juan Pablo Morales of Catholic Charities New York responded, “It seems that this is a recurring theme, demanding the labor and participation of immigrants when you need us, but forgetting about us when you need to recognize our rights. That needs to change, not just for immigrants, but for the entire country.”
During the press conference, immigrant day laborers, house cleaners, laundry workers and others shared personal stories of the impact of coronavirus on their lives and called on Gov. Cuomo to stand up to trumpism.
“My employer closed down his business weeks ago. He won’t return my calls. My daughters ask me what we will do, and it breaks my heart because I cannot tell them I don’t know what we will do, I don’t know what will happen. Governor Cuomo, don’t forget, we are already part of New York’s economy, and we pay our taxes, week after week.” – Jose Antonio, Obreros Unidos de Yonkers, New York
“I have three US citizen children, but since the pandemia, I have been unemployed and it means a constant physical, economic, and mental strain, not being able to give our children a sense of security, I mean the basics. And it will only get worse.” – Marta, Community Resource Center, Mamaroneck, New York
“I am a housekeeper, Garifuna, a day laborer from the Bronx. But I also have hypertension, I suffer from constant migraines, and am a survivor of breast cancer, but it doesn’t matter, I have had to leave my house and put myself and my family at risk. I live with constant anguish. Family members have had it. I’ve known people close to me that have died. We may not have papers, but what we ask is just, it is fair, it is what we have also contributed.” – Xiomara, Jornaleros del Bronx, Catholic Charities of NY
“I worked in a restaurant in Brooklyn for almost eight months, no minimum wage or extra time, about 12 hours a day, six days per week. I was fired after Gov. Cuomo signed the mandatory quarantine. My boss only told me he would let me know when we would re-open, but he still owes me 4 weeks of work. Restaurant workers, we have the same personal needs and I myself, support my parents who both have medical conditions. Governor, we contribute, with our labor, with our taxes, and today you can create a fund to help us come out of this crisis. We must know that this justice will make the country stronger.” – Joel, Laundry Workers Center
“It’s an emotional stress, knowing friends and loved ones that have passed away in recent weeks, others are still sick. As day laborers, we meet each other, we make friends, and sadly, many we won’t see again. For those who have the power to move these most basic needs for the most vulnerable, we ask for just a little bit of humanity in your hearts. The fact is, we have not been treated as humans.” – Jose, Don Bosco Workers Port Chester, New York
New York state is home to nearly three-quarters of a million undocumented immigrants. About 1 in 12 U.S. citizen children in New York live with at least one undocumented family member. Undocumented workers pay an estimated $1 billion annually in state and local taxes in New York and yet they are currently left out of federal and state relief programs.