New York Protesters Call on Cuomo to Support Undocumented Workers

Protesters rallied in various parts of New York City on May 19, calling for rent forgiveness and financial relief for undocumented workers and immigrant families who have lost their primary source of income because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The demonstrations were led by the pro-immigrant activist group New York Communities for Change (NYCC), which released a document the same day that described Gov Andrew Cuomo as “cruel” for excluding undocumented workers, of which there are roughly 800,000 in New York City, the NYCC estimates, from receiving “federal stimulus or unemployment checks, despite paying taxes and contributing to our economy.”

The NYCC said “COVID-19 is disproportionately killing and impacting those living in low-income and immigrant communities,” and urged Cuomo to enact the organization’s proposed $3.5 billion Excluded Workers Emergency Income Replacement Fund, and “to cancel rent, mortgages and utilities for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The footage here shows protesters in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. One man is seen propping up a faux coffin, which NYCC said symbolized lives lost to COVID-19.

A report from the advocate groups Make the Road New York and Hester Street released last week surveyed 244 primarily Hispanic workers, one-third of whom were undocumented, and found the majority said they had lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

Cuomo said during his daily press briefing on May 8 that there were no plans to provide assistance for undocumented immigrants who were ineligible for emergency aid. “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.” Credit: Evelien de Vogel via Storyful