ALBANY — Advocates are accusing Gov. Cuomo of abandoning undocumented immigrants during the coronavirus crisis.
New York Communities for Change will issue a report Tuesday highlighting the plight of the estimated 800,000 undocumented New Yorkers who they say are bearing the brunt of the pandemic and facing economic uncertainty after being excluded from federal stimulus and state assistance.
“Undocumented New Yorkers will have no path to recovery as long as Governor Cuomo refuses to act,” the group writes in the report. “Any relief plan to help undocumented New Yorkers needs to be a much larger investment to address the scope and severity of the financial crisis facing them.”
According to the report — dubbed “Cuomo’s Cruelty: How New York’s Governor Abandoned Undocumented New Yorkers During the COVID-19 Pandemic” — the group says it has helped roughly 300 immigrant families stay afloat by launching an emergency fund to provide direct relief as the virus has been disproportionately killing and impacting those living in low income and immigrant communities.
Most applicants were undocumented immigrants with young children.
Many more immigrants are currently putting themselves at risk by continuing to work during the epidemic. One in five front-line workers at grocery stores, social services organizations and other essential businesses in the city are noncitizens, according to a report released in March by the city comptroller’s office.
Earlier this month, the governor said that there that there was no plan for the state to provide additional COVID-19 assistance for undocumented immigrants who are ineligible for emergency aid or unemployment. Instead, he pointed to Washington.
“The federal government has a number of programs to address that,” Cuomo said. “If we get some state funding through the federal government, we’ll do whatever we can.”
Advocates say there is plenty the state can do to assist immigrants impacted by the virus and the economic fallout.
NYCC is calling on Cuomo to cancel rent, utilities and mortgage payments for the duration of the crisis and enact a $3.5 billion fund for excluded workers paid for by increasing taxes on the wealthy.
They also believe New York could follow the example of California, where a $125 million fund was established with the help of philanthropists to provide aid for noncitizens. George Soros’s Open Society Foundation already donated $20 million to the city to assist undocumented immigrants.
Immigrant groups plant to hold a handful of rallies around the city Tuesday targeting the governor.
Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi said the state is doing all it can to help.
“We’re moving heaven and earth to protect all New Yorkers during this pandemic,” Azzopardi said. “Advocates advocate — even for proposals that might look great on a bumper sticker, but have no realistic implementation plan behind them.”
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