New York, NY — On Monday, public health and worker safety experts delivered a message to state Governors, and to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: Stop the illogical exclusion of undocumented immigrants from pandemic assistance if you want to save lives. As the pandemic reaches 6 months since businesses were forced to shutter, experts are raising the alarm about Governors leaving out enormous segments of the population.
“Sadly it reflects an intransigence, an acceptance of what is really a racist status quo. And it is self-defeating. Pandemic aid helps people help themselves. If we do not include everyone in our country, we will not be able to stop this epidemic,” stated Dr. David Michaels, former Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA during an online press conference on Monday.
“Many of our own Governors have been unwilling to challenge this problem, making excuses that have no place in public health or workplace safety,” added Dr Michaels.
Over 100 experts and organizations from the fields of public health and worker safety signed the letter to Governors denouncing the continued exclusion of undocumented workers and their families – a segment of the population representing hundreds of thousands in New York state, and millions across the country. The letter was delivered to the offices of Governor Andrew Cuomo Monday afternoon.
The letter, available here online with the complete list of signers, reads in part:
The illogical exclusion of an entire sector of the population has no place in a public health response based on modern science and epidemiology. On the contrary, the exclusion of the immigrant population contradicts the supposed intentions of various governors, including New York’s Andrew Cuomo, to carry out evidence-based interventions and follow the recommendations of experts in the field.
In an online press conference on Monday, speakers included representatives of National COSH, the NY Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, the NDLON Committee of Health and Safety Trainers, the APHA committee on workplace safety, and the former Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA.
“From a public health perspective, it’s simple, when workers go to work regardless of the health risk of doing so, this creates a health risk, for workers and for the community that they live in,” explained Charlene Obernauer, Executive Director of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, one of the oldest and most respected entities on the subject matter in the United States. “In New York state, there is specific legislation that would balance the budget and fund excluded workers, instead of tax breaks for billionaires.”
During the live broadcast, a delegation in Manhattan delivered the letter – in a gigantic four-foot envelope – to the NYC offices of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the highest profile Democratic Governor in the nation.
“Governor Cuomo, as experts and trainers in our fields, we see the impact of leaving out entire groups because of where we were born, or because we don’t have the correct paperwork, our colleagues are getting sick, many are dying.” said Pedro Pena workplace safety trainer with the Don Bosco Workers as they delivered the letter to Gov Cuomo’s offices in Manhattan.
When previously asked about ending the exclusion of undocumented immigrants from emergency aid, Gov. Cuomo responded that the state cannot afford it.
“If governors are serious about tackling this public health crisis and saving lives, it’s time they stop denying minorities the resources needed to ensure workplace safety,” stated Deborah Gonzalez, NDLON Coordinador for Health and Safety, outside of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan offices.
The letter, led by the national working group of workplace trainers from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NCOSH), and the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), was signed by over 60 organizations in the fields of public health and workplace health and safety, and an additional 40 experts, professors, and trainers in the field.
“As the reality of the pandemic set in, there was an important sentiment of appreciation for these essential workers, a new understanding of our interconnectedness… and yet our pandemic response does not reflect that appreciation, and that understanding,” added Dr. Michaels. “As public health and workplace safety professionals we must speak out – to make clear – that our safety and health, everyone’s safety and health depend on effective interventions that include all of us, with no exceptions.”
#YNosotrosQue #EssentialAndExcluded #EssentialWorkers #AllWorkIsEssential