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800K Undocumented Workers in Peril; Cuomo Urged to Take Action

May 19, 2020

By Marc Bussanich

New York, NY – New York Communities for Change [NYCC] issued a new report today to demand that Governor Andrew Cuomo implement policy measures that would provide immediate economic relief to the state’s 800,000 undocumented workers and individuals during the current pandemic. 

NYCC members rallied today in multiple locations in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn to say that they have been abandoned by both the state and federal governments.

Many of the undocumented immigrants worked in some of the hardest hit industries such as restaurants, retail, domestic work and hospitality. 

With the report’s release, NYCC members rallied today in multiple locations in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn to say that they have been abandoned by both the state and federal governments. 

NYCC is recommending in the report that the state create a $3.5 billion Excluded Workers Emergency Income Replacement fund that would be funded vis-à-vis a mark-to-market tax on wealth above $1 billion.

According to the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a mark-to-market tax works by taxing investment income under which any increase in the value of a taxpayer’s assets is included in income each year. 

“In other words, taxable income includes the full value of capital gains in the year they accrue, whether the gain is realized or not,” noted the Center.  

In addition, the NYCC report is calling for a cancellation of rent, mortgage and utility payments for the duration of the pandemic, as well as the permanent rehousing of all New Yorkers experiencing homelessness.

Alice Nascimento presented some of the report’s key findings during a Zoom call earlier today, and she explained that while the group is waiting for Cuomo to act on its policy recommendations, it created its own emergency fund to provide some sort of relief to undocumented immigrants, albeit a much smaller amount than what it is asking the state to establish.

The group, in partnership with NY Communities Organizing Fund, raised $25,000 and launched it in early April, and within a short time the fund was depleted.

“Within 24 hours there were 300 families that had applied for relief and we immediately had to close it because we don’t have enough funds to disperse to everyone. While we’re happy to provide them with some relief these are very small donations that will only allow a family to buy groceries or pay for utility bills. What’s really needed is a response by the government,” said Nascimento. 

She provided some startling statistics about those families that applied for the funding. 

For example, nearly all of those who applied for emergency assistance have been laid off. About 86 percent of the applicants reported that they were ineligible for unemployment insurance or any government stimulus payments. Also, 94 percent of the 300 families that applied stated there were no partners or family members in the house with work. And, 7 in 10 have children to provide for, with almost all applicants expressing an inability to pay rent or purchase food. 

Nascimento also addressed the issue that is popular among some sections of the electorate that undocumented immigrants and workers are somehow a drain on the social safety net. 


“They actually contribute more than they take. For example, according to a recent Fiscal Policy Institute report, they estimate that over the past decade about $1.4 billion was paid in unemployment insurance taxes in New York based on the work of undocumented immigrants and they do not benefit from any of that.”

The report’s issuance coincided with a press call with New York Congressmen Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) and Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), as well as with representatives from New Jersey and Pennsylvania to urge the Republican-controlled Senate to pass the House of Representative’s $3 trillion stimulus bill, also known as the Heroes Act.

LaborPress asked Congressman Espaillat during the call what type of relief will be available to undocumented immigrants in the Heroes Act.

According to Espaillat, undocumented immigrants will be able to receive Economic Impact Payments of $1,200 for single wage earners, or $2,400 for married couples.

The full NYCC report is available here

May 19, 2020

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