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New York City Trying to Improve Latinos’ Low COVID-19 Vaccination Rates

Plus: Tax documents are keeping undocumented workers from relief funds, bill would end ICE contracts with local governments, and more.

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When Myrna Lazcano, a community activist from Mexico who lives in East Harlem, got COVID-19, her symptoms dragged on for months. This long-haul illness drove Lazcano to get the COVID-19 vaccine and to share her experience to encourage other Latinos to get it as well. Latinos have been twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as whites and had the highest infection rates in New York City. But vaccination rates among New York City Latinos remain low. Some residents say they distrust the vaccine, but most say they haven’t been able to access it. For example, many undocumented immigrants have struggled to get proper documentation to prove their eligibility. The New Yorker 

In other local immigration news…

Tax Document Delays Are Keeping Undocumented Workers From Relief Funds

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María, a 56-year old undocumented immigrant from the Dominican Republic who lives in the Bronx, was diagnosed with Lymphoma last January. She didn’t imagine life could get any worse, but two months later, she lost her longtime job as a babysitter due to the pandemic. Undocumented immigrants who lost their jobs also saw their life savings dwindle during the pandemic, especially because they weren’t eligible for federal benefits. It took more than a year for New York to announce its $2.1 billion Excluded Workers Fund, which will provide up to $15,600 to individuals who weren’t eligible for other relief. Still, many undocumented New Yorkers are having a hard time accessing documents, including Tax Identification Numbers, they need to apply for the fund. Read more at Documented. 

New York Bill Would Terminate ICE Detention Contracts With Jails

The New York Immigrant Unity Project, Brooklyn Defender Services and the Bronx Defenders are supporting the proposed “Dignity Not Detention” act, which would terminate contracts between local governments in New York and federal immigration enforcement that let the municipalities incarcerate immigrants. The bill is part of recent efforts to block coordination between Immigration and Customs Enforcement and New York law enforcement. The groups supporting the bill say ICE detention “separates families, subjects people to the extensive trauma and harms of incarceration, deprives people of basic human needs and rights and has killed hundreds of people.” Spectrum News 

New Jersey Lawmakers Want to End ICE Contracts

After New Jersey’s Essex County announced plans to end its contract with ICE, state lawmakers began pushing a bill to block counties, municipalities and private prison operators throughout the state from signing contracts “to house or detain individuals for federal civil immigration violations.” The bill will also stop the renewal of existing ICE contracts in the state, including facilities in Bergen and Hudson counties. The bill has made it through the state Senate’s Law and Public Safety committee, but its Assembly companion hasn’t been scheduled for a vote. NJ.com 

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