Before the coronavirus pandemic began, Maria Abeja had no trouble finding work as a housekeeper, gardener or nanny. But after it started, all her jobs dried up.
So Abeja, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, reached out to Maribel Torres, a recently unemployed housecleaner, with a proposition: They’d make and sell reusable cloth face masks. The two women brought the idea to La Colmena, a worker’s center on Staten Island. They were connected to MakerSpace NYC, which donated sewing machines and fabric.
So far, they’ve fulfilled over 100 orders selling three masks for $15. They’ve received hundreds more orders since and enlisted four more workers to help fill them. THE CITY
Census Lags in Coronavirus-Ravaged Queens
In immigrant neighborhoods at the center of the coronavirus crisis in New York City, the ongoing 2020 census is the last thing on residents’ mind. But the census determines hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding for essential services, including schools, public housing and health care. Community groups have been trying to convey this message to people in the hardest-hit areas, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made this harder than ever. New York City officials and advocates warned even before the pandemic that black Americans and immigrants could be undercounted, and that seems to be proving true. New York City’s interim response rate of 45.8% lags behind the national average of 51.6%, and in Corona, which has more total COVID-19 patients than any other zip code in the city, the census response rate is just 24.5%. Read more at Documented.
New York Government Stalls Providing Financial Aid to Undocumented Immigrants
Undocumented immigrants have been left out of the U.S. government’s stimulus package, prompting states and cities to step on. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) recently announced undocumented immigrants would be able to draw assistance from a $125 million public-private fund, while Minneapolis is offering $5 million in assistance to tenants and small businesses. But New York only announced it would distribute funding only after it received a $20 million donation from George Soros’s Open Society Foundations. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said the state couldn’t afford the fund on its own. “We’re looking at it, but we have real financial problems right now,” he said. Politico
Report Details Toll of COVID-19 Pandemic on Immigrants in New Jersey
Millions of Americans have lost their job due to coronavirus but have been able to avoid complete financial ruin by claiming unemployment. Undocumented immigrants in New Jersey do not have that option, and are often forced to go to work and risk their lives, a recent report from advocacy group Make the Road NJ says. “Undocumented immigrants are disproportionately likely to own small businesses and to work in the sectors that have been hardest hit by coronavirus-related closures,” the report details. Make the Road NJ is asking Gov. Phil Murphy (D) to give people $600 per month if they lost their job but are ineligible for unemployment. Murphy said he is open to the idea but would not commit to it. NJ Advance
Advocates Fear Deportations Will Spread COVID-19 in Haiti
Advocates and a congressmember are calling on the Trump administration to cease deportations to Haiti after it deported 129 Haitian migrants on Thursday despite the threat of spreading coronavirus. “Haiti is not equipped, it lacks the infrastructure to deal with any outbreak of this pandemic. We know that the 128 people deported today have all been exposed to folks who have tested positive for COVID-19,” Marline Bastien, head of the Family Action Network Movement, said. Earlier this month, three of 61 deported Haitians tested positive for coronavirus after arriving. “Continuing these flights will likely contribute to the spread of the novel coronavirus in the impoverished nation where many people do not have access to basic health care,” said Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.). HuffPost
ICE May Start COVID-19 Tests for Deportees
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are reportedly considering testing detainees for COVID-19 before they’re deported to stem disease spread. ICE officials told the Miami Herald the decision will hinge on findings from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A team from the CDC was dispatched to Guatemala last week after Guatemalan health officials said 70 detainees on two recent ICE deportation flights had tested positive for COVID-19. Guatemala then decided to halt all deportations. “Once results are available, ICE will determine whether to re-evaluate current medical procedures with CDC guidance,” ICE said in a statement. The Miami Herald
Department of Defense Builds Up Border Surveillance Infrastructure
The Trump administration has been quietly building up surveillance infrastructure at the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the coronavirus pandemic even though fewer people seem to be crossing the border illegally. Documents obtained by The Associated Press show the Department of Defense started manning 60 more mobile surveillance cameras this month after sending 540 additional troops to the southwest border. The cameras are owned by Customs and Border Protection, but will be manned by the military and will be removed once the pandemic has ceased. Apprehensions of people crossing the border illegally have declined by 77 percent since May. The Associated Press
Teenage Migrants Placed in ICE Jails Despite Coronavirus
Migrant children who were being held in government custody continue to age out and be transferred to adult ICE detention on their 18th birthdays, despite the spread of COVID-19 in ICE detention. Lawyers argued in court earlier this year that the government is obligated to find the safest possible option for a child when they turn 18, which would likely be being released to a sponsor, often a family member. This problem has been further heightened by the pandemic, as children are being placed in ICE detention facilities where children could be exposed to COVID-19. The New York Times
Court Staff Union Says DOJ Prioritizes Deportations Over SafetyA union for staff who work at the Board of Immigration Appeals in Falls Church said the Department of Justice, which oversees the court, is placing their lives in danger because it prioritizes high deportation numbers over worker safety. Nancy Sykes, the president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3525, filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration saying too many workers were required to come into the office, putting them at risk of catching COVID-19. Most support staff at the court are made to come in rather than telework because they deal with physical paperwork. “I feel like half the time, I’m working on Trump’s re-election,” an anonymous employee said. Politico
Washington — Trump Signs 60-Day Ban on Green Cards, With Exceptions
President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday that blocked the issuance of green cards to people outside of the U.S., with numerous exceptions, for the next 60 days. The order came after Trump tweeted late on Monday that he would be suspending all immigration during the coronavirus pandemic. This created 48 hours of confusion with aides and lawyers scrambling to come up with an order for the president to sign. It also brought on a severe backlash from the business community, who were afraid it would add further complications to the already devastated economy.
It’s now clear Trump’s measure targets thousands of parents, adult children, and siblings of citizens who are seeking to immigrate to the U.S. The diversity visa lottery, often referred to as the green card lottery, which issues 50,000 visas per year, will be suspended. Green card holders in the U.S. will also be prevented from reuniting with their spouses who are abroad.
Anybody currently in the U.S. will not be affected, nor will the family of U.S. citizens, nor anybody seeking temporary work visas, such as farmers or students. The EB-5 program was also exempted,which grants investors green cards. Health care professionals and their families are exempted as well.
The administration pledged to review the order after at least 30 days and potentially include new restrictions on nonimmigrant visas. It would assess whether to renew the order based on economic conditions. The ban has been prefaced as a way to protect U.S. citizens’ jobs that were lost due to the shutdown, a rationale that was rejected by business groups.
Prior to the executive order, there had already been an effective ban on immigration into the U.S. as its borders were shut down to asylum seekers and consular offices were closed. These were done as health precautions, but a study completed by UC San Diego did not find any correlation between immigration restrictions and cases of influenza. The New York Times, San Diego Union-Tribune
The COVID-19 pandemic has warmed relations between the ideologically opposed U.S. President Trump and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Despite Trump’s rhetoric about Mexican immigrants, the two have struck up a “friendship,” López Obrador said. Trump has helped López Obrador by reducing oil production and sending ventilators south. Mexico previously appeased Trump by cracking down on migrants crossing through the country to reach the U.S. border, a move that analysts say has not hurt López Obrador with his base. Associated Press
A Supreme Court ruling on Thursday has made it harder for immigrants with a criminal record to not have their green cards stripped. The court ruled 5-4, split along ideological lines, that immigration law makes people with certain criminal records ineligible to stay in the country.Associated Press