The U.S. unemployment rate has doubled
Sotero Cirilo sleeps in a blue tent under a bridge in Queens, New York.
The Mexican immigrant used to work at two restaurants in Manhattan every week, earning $800, but that year ended the COVID-19 pandemic and both closed. A few months later, he could no longer pay the rent of the room where he slept in the Bronx, and shortly thereafter, he could not afford a room in Queens.
The 55-year-old said with tears in his eyes: “I never thought I would fall where I am now.”
Activists and aid organizations say that Cirillo mainly speaks Talapanico (an indigenous language), and he is one of a growing number of immigrants living in the United States without permission. They are plagued by the pandemic. Homeless. These immigrants work in industries that have been hit hard in recent months, such as food or construction, leaving thousands of workers without income.
According to data from the Institute for Immigration Policy, among Hispanic immigrants, regardless of their immigration status, their unemployment rate has doubled from 4.8% in January 2020 to 8.8% in February this year. Activists and social workers in states such as New York or California say that the most vulnerable immigrants, who usually do not qualify for public financial assistance, are sometimes homeless.
“I see an increase in homeless immigration camps in Queens. They each have five or six tents,” said Jesenia Benitez, a 30-year-old social worker who helped these groups. Yessenia Benítez) said.
“Currently, they are used to recycling bottles, but they are hard-working people. They want to contribute to society. Benitez added that before the pandemic, they contributed to society and some of them paid taxes.
The organization’s spokesperson Jorge-Mario Cabrera said that in Los Angeles, the aid organization “Humanitarian Immigrant Rights Alliance” noticed the calls for immigration assistance calls in the past six months. “A substantial increase”.
Cabrera said: “We have seen more and more people living on the streets, living in cars, living in garages, or often living in crowded environments with friends.”
“They don’t even have the money to pay their mobile phone bills. So, what we’re saying is that one of the secondary effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is to completely destroy the safety net of undocumented immigrants. “Although other communities receive (financial) assistance, Most of the time immigrants get nothing. “
Cabrera said many immigrants who call are essential workers, and their wages have been “greatly reduced.”
In New York, Cirilo’s tent is next to a tent bought by Benítez for the homeless immigrants who organized the refugee camp in September. Under the colorful walls full of graffiti, immigrants sit on plastic boxes and chat. On the ground, beside the tent, there are blankets, backpacks and dozens of recyclable cans and bottles. Three puppies stopped at the feet of the immigrants.
Alfredo Martínez’s tent is green. The 38-year-old Mexican immigrant worked in construction, but when the pandemic began, his working hours were reduced. The lack of a stable income intensified the tension with her roommates, and she ended up living on the street, where she lived for four months.
Martinez is now a sporadic construction worker and hopes to save enough money to rent a room and pay for a 40-hour construction safety course, which is what New York State requires people working in the industry.
Martinez said: “The pandemic is over and everything is gone.” “This is the first time this has happened to me, but I think it will be temporary. I hope so.”
According to the latest report from New York City, approximately 476,000 immigrants living in the country without permission live in the metropolis. The Office of Immigration Affairs estimated in a study that 60% of workers living in the country illegally lost their jobs or were in danger of losing their jobs, while the remaining workers accounted for 36%.
According to the report, the poverty rate of unlicensed immigrants in the city is 29.2%, which is higher than the 27% of immigrants with green cards or other status. The poverty rate for Americans born in New York is 20%.
Immigrants living in the country illegally cannot receive government incentives or unemployment assistance even if they pay taxes. However, some cities and states have approved aid plans for them.
Last year, California provided cash to unauthorized immigrants, and New York lawmakers recently set up a $2.1 billion fund to help lose jobs or income during the pandemic and be excluded from other government assistance due to your immigration status Workers outside the plan. This program is the largest of its kind in the United States.
In Arizona, organizations that help immigrants say that women cleaning hotel rooms are suffering financially, and the situation of children at home is even worse due to the suspension of schools due to the pandemic.
People try to make a living by selling tortillas. This lady opened her small shop outside the store and sold…anything to the people living in the complex so that she could raise enough funds to pay the rent,” said Petra, the head of the aid organization Promise. Falcon said., in Phoenix.
A spokesperson for the US Department of Housing and Human Development said that there is no data on the impact of the pandemic on the number of homeless people. According to an agency report, the number of homeless people increased by 2% between 2019 and 2020, marking the fourth consecutive year of annual growth. Almost a quarter of the homeless in the country are Hispanic.
Chirillo said that he hopes to return to his country one day. He said: “My children are asking me to come back.” “I don’t want to leave without money.”