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One Year After Bronx Apartment Fire, Victims Still Need Money

Shortly after the new year of 2022 began, 17 people, including eight children, were consumed by fire and smoke at the Twin Parks high-rise apartment building in the Bronx. Today marks a year since that tragedy happened. 

For many of us, today will be a day like any other. But for victims and those whose loved ones passed away on that fateful day, they are likely to struggle. “Every time I think about my neighbors screaming for help, it’s like a stab in my heart,” a pregnant Yadhira Rodriguez had said shortly after the fire happened. In today’s newsletter we provide an update on how she and her family, as well as the other victims, are faring.

What has changed? 

Victims are still learning to cope a year later: They say they’re still owed donations from New York City, Documented’s Labor Reporter, Amir Khafagy, reports

Yadhira Rodriguez, who gave birth in the months after the fire, said the $10,000 debit card she received doesn’t come close to helping her rebuild her life — the City gave $10,000 in aid per family. Rodriguez says she, her husband, and three sons have only survived thus far because they have “a whole village praying and doing stuff so that we don’t only depend on the City.” 

“What happened to my neighbors who only have the City?” she asks.

For Rodriguez, her experience dealing with Bronxworks — the nonprofit mobilized to support the former Twin Parks tenants — and New York City government was indicative of the City’s overall treatment of the fire survivors. From day one, Rodriguez believes the City failed to communicate with the tenants well. 

The Mayor’s Fund first raised $2.5 million for survivors of the apartment fire, and shortly after, an additional $3 million was added to the fund, which should bring the total amount of money raised for victims to $5.5 million. Yet a year later, victims of the Twin Parks apartment fire say they have only seen a fraction of the money raised on their behalf. Several families say they received only a $10,000 debit card last March, which amounts to five months of rent for an average one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx. They are calling on the Mayor’s office to tell them where the rest of the money raised went and how it was spent.

Read the full report on Documented.


New York

Migrants who came to NYC in an earlier wave describe their lives now: Dozens have said their main priority was to work and send money home. Even without work authorization, many are finding gigs in construction and restaurants. — The New York Times

Around the U.S. 

Black farm workers’ lawsuit settled over claims farms hired white laborers from South Africa and paid them more for same work: The lawsuits against two agricultural businesses in the Mississippi Delta have reached a private settlement; an attorney said the farmers will be compensated. — WLBT

Watch — border agents, police arrest migrants sleeping outside church shelter in El Paso: Immigration advocates say the proximity of the arrests to a church shelter may violate the Department of Homeland Security’s policies. — NBC News

New documentary examines life inside an American flag production factory with primarily refugees and immigrants as employees: “The Flagmakers” is currently airing on Disney Plus, and it debuted on Friday on the second anniversary of the January 6th 2021 U.S. Capitol riot. — Axios

Opinion — Undocumented child immigrants should have a right to counsel: As more migrants enter the U.S., officials must address the issue of undocumented migrants, especially children, not being guaranteed a lawyer when facing deportation, writes Tione Hoeckner. — CT Mirror

George H.W. Bush Presidential Library holds naturalization ceremony: For some, the day was only a confirmation of their identity as Americans because they were already paying taxes and performing other civil duties. — KAGSTV

Washington D.C.

Biden arrives at the border for the first time as president: He spoke with USBP agents and responded to a few questions from reporters, with plans to meet local officials, faith leaders and NGOs to recognize their help. — CNN

Congress’ failure to reform immigration since Clinton left office:

Even bipartisan immigration reform efforts and those with strong presidential backing have failed over the last 20-plus years. The prospects for a breakthrough this year are slim. — NBC

Immigration pivot shows Biden facing hard reality of border politics: Biden’s dependence on the emergency public health authority as a tool of border control has become a glaring example of his conflicted needs and policy entanglements. — The Washington Post

House Speaker pledges to tackle immigration, ‘woke’ education policies and IRS funding: Rep. Kevin McCarthy laid out an ambitious plan early Saturday morning, promising to also tackle immigration at the southern border. — CNBC

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