The immigrant populations in New York City have been hit especially hard by COVID-19, and few harder than the Latin American population of Corona, Queens, where thousands have died from the coronavirus and many more are suffering economically.
A socially distanced rally was held by Make the Road New York in Corona Plaza to emphasize the plight of immigrants who in addition to the illness, face raging unemployment, rising food prices, and a failure of the federal government to include many of them in the stimulus packages. Immigrants either couldn’t figure out how to get the stimulus money or were left out by the system.
Members of Make the Road New York stood with placards calling for government aid for immigrants who are at the bottom of the economic totem pole for assistance. They demanded Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to act on a proposed $3.5 billion Workers Fund, cancel rents for those impacted by unemployment and lowered wages, and releasing “at-risk people” from prisons and detention centers, beyond what has already been done.
The group itself has lost 67 members who died of complications from Covid-19 since the pandemic began.
State Senator Jessica Ramos, expressed outrage at the suffering of immigrants, and said she is proposing a tax on the state’s 112 billionaires that she says “don’t carry their fair share of their taxes.”
She called it a “worker bailout” that would give $3,300 a month to those who didn’t qualify for stimulus money that would last through the duration of the pandemic to cover “their cost of living.”
“It’s been very hard for us to breath in this community when you start to add the number of people lost in the three zip codes that I represent – there are more than a thousand people that we’ve lost that we know about and many more are sick,” Ramos said. “The people in this community work very hard and deserve the same amount of attention as any New Yorker from the president or the governor.”
She said many of those now unemployed work for billionaires “raising their children, cleaning their houses, and taking care of their parents.”
“Those are our people – so when the stock market crashes, it is the taxes that we pay that becomes the backbone of this economy – now the shoes on the other foot and it’s their turn to bail us out.”
Councilmember Francisco Moya expressed outrage that the immigrant population has been hit so hard and was saddened that members of Make the Road New York had died of COVID-19.
“It shows the disparity – when the mayor talks about the tale of two cities, – it exists right here and now,” Moya said. “When we see that a study says 49 percent of immigrants are part of the private workforce, and now that the pandemic hits, we make up 54 percent of the unemployed. The researchers need to come here. Senator Ramos has been fighting diligently in Albany. This is the most we can do and be your voice we go to government and bat for you in our budget – we want to ensure that the money comes here and protect those most vulnerable which is the immigrant community.”
Make the Road New York is also holding a vigil for those who died from coronavirus at two locations at 8 pm: Corona Plaza, Queens, and 1090 Suffolk Avenue, Brentwood, New York.