Don’t Leave New York’s Immigrants Alone On the Frontlines of the Pandemic

NYIC: New York Immigration Coalition
NYIC: New York Immigration Coalition
NYIC: New York Immigration Coalition

Don’t Leave New York’s Immigrants Alone On the Frontlines of the Pandemic

Immigrant New Yorkers are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic-we cannot leave them behind
March 18, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly across the country, millions of immigrants are standing on the first line of defense against this global pandemic. Taking care of our elderly or very young, deep cleaning our homes and offices to guard against infection, cooking and delivering meals to those who can’t leave their homes. While health experts and elected officials stress the need for people to just stay home, immigrant New Yorkers are being called on to fill the urgent gaps. We must make sure they are included when Albany and Washington DC brings the relief that’s sorely needed.

One thing’s for sure - we can’t rely on the federal government. For three years this Administration has taken every opportunity to harass, intimidate, and strike fear in immigrant communities - separating children from their parents, enacting ugly, racist Muslim and African bans, or jeopardizing millions by terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

So we know that this President cannot be trusted - and that’s where we need our New York electeds to step up to the plate. We are calling on New York State to immediately enact a coordinated set of policy, budget and public outreach measures we released as part of our New York United plan to meet this unprecedented moment head on. These include ensuring that all New Yorkers - regardless of immigration status or the ability to pay - get access to free COVID-19 testing and treatment for all New Yorkers across the state. Opening up a multilingual COVID-19 hotline and translating resources, so that New York’s 4 million immigrants are just as up to date on the crisis as everyone else - what good is a text alert to “hunker down” if people don’t understand it? Economic support such as direct cash grants that include all workers - particularly the immigrant workers still keeping our city and state running and small business grants and zero interest loans for the immigrant-owned small businesses - restaurants, stores and bars - who are reeling right now.

We need to go further. The school closures sweeping across the state ask parents to take on a teacher’s role in their child's education - challenging enough already for all parents, but what about those who aren’t English-proficient? We cannot neglect funding adult literacy education so New York’s immigrant parents can develop their own skills and be the best support for their children possible at a time when their kids depend on them for learning.

We must also act quickly to restore funding to protect the immigrants most vulnerable to deportation - because while much of the Federal government is shutting down, ICE deportation agents are not - using this opportunity to go into places like New Rochelle and conduct raids that fly in the face of any “social distancing.” For starters, the Governor and our state electeds can ensure that the Liberty Defense Project (LDP) gets fully funded so we don’t leave immigrants behind at the mercy of ICE when they’re delivering meals and deep-cleaning offices. 

At critical crisis moments for New York - the aftermath of 9/11, Hurricane Sandy - immigrants have played a heroic, unsung role in protecting New York State and helping it recover. The same is true today in this pandemic, as they stand on the front lines fighting back against this invisible enemy. Our elected officials must work together to ensure that New York stands united, and that each and every New Yorker - regardless of their home country or immigration status - is protected and receives the care and support they need to keep their families healthy and safe.

New York Immigration Coalition
20200703