[NY\COVID-19 Pandemic\Immigrants]
Community vigils were held in Corona Plaza and in Brentwood, Long Island to commemorate the community members lost in the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. The vigils included candles, flowers, photos of those lost…”
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New York City is the world’s COVID-19 epicenter, with the Corona, Queens area recording the most deaths.

Make the Road New York members and elected officials gathered in Corona Plaza to honor the dead in the community that has been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a morning press conference community members stood with State Senator Jessica Ramos, Assemblymember Catalina Cruz and Councilmember Francisco Moya to commemorate neighbors the community has lost and highlight the overwhelming need in immigrant, Black and Brown communities in Queens.

With millions of immigrants and Black and Brown people excluded from government relief during the pandemic, the speakers called on Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio to take immediate action to meet community needs. Directly affected community members and elected officials called on Governor Cuomo to advance a #Recovery4All in New York, which includes a $3.5 billion Excluded Workers’ Fund, canceling rent, releasing at risk people from prisons and detention centers, and ensuring access to health care for immigrants. They called on Mayor de Blasio to invest in immigrant communities and avoid cutting vital programs and services.

In the evening, community vigils were held in Corona Plaza and in Brentwood, Long Island to commemorate the community members lost in the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. The vigils included candles, flowers, photos of those lost, names projected on the side of the building and banners hanging above Corona Plaza.

Over the last months, COVID-19 has disproportionately affected people of color and immigrant communities, and the epicenter of the crisis has been western Queens, New York. As shown in a new report by Make the Road New York and Hester Street, one in six working-class immigrant, Black, and Brown community members surveyed had lost a family member to COVID-19, and nine out of ten have suffered household job or income loss. Meanwhile, only five percent were able to access unemployment insurance, and only 15 percent had received any government assistance whatsoever.

Corona has the highest death count of any area in New York. Brentwood has the highest COVID-19 infection rate on Long Island. While these communities are living in the center of this crisis, the federal government has willfully excluded much of these communities and Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have failed to take immediate action to protect immigrant, Black and Brown New Yorkers.

“I lived in Queens for more than 20 years and for the last few months I have seen my neighbors suffer tremendously. I lost both of my jobs and every day I worry about how I am going to continue to support my family,” said Luis Gil, Queens Resident and member of Make the Road New York. “While the federal government is excluding immigrants like me, New York is leaving us behind too. It is time for Governor Cuomo to step up and create the $3.5 billion workers’ fund to help the working class that has been excluded.”

Martha, Queens Resident and member of Make the Road New York, said “Both my son and I lost our jobs due to Covid-19. We were not able to pay our rent in the month of April, much less in May and paying rent in June will be impossible for us. Just like my family, there are thousands of other families who are stuck in the same situation. Rent was already expensive for New Yorkers and as the months go by rent is accumulating for those of us who cannot pay, leaving us sinking in debt. An extension on the eviction moratorium is not enough, we need rent cancelation immediately.”

Mario Chavez, a member of Make the Road New York, said “As a survivor of covid-19, I thought everything would be better once I recovered, but my nightmare is far from over. After those traumatic days in the hospital, I am harassed by my landlord for not being able to pay the rent and just like the many who have been excluded from relief, I have to decide whether to pay the rent or buy food. We demand Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio to pass a true recovery for all in New York, our communities are sick and going hungry.”

State Senator Jessica Ramos said “Today we mourn the lives of over 50 Make the Road New York members who died of COVID-19 complications. Known as the, ‘epicenter of the epicenter,’ our district has been ravaged by COVID-19, and has taken the worst toll on our communities of color and socio-economically distressed neighborhoods. These communities are on the frontlines without adequate protections and have been left to grapple with extreme food insecurity, housing evictions, and unemployment threats. With Make the Road New York, we will continue to honor those we’ve lost by fighting our hardest for the living.”

Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, said, “While Americans across the state are struggling with unemployment, the toll this crisis has taken on Black and Brown communities has been unbearable. Not only have they experienced the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, but many of our community members who are undocumented do not qualify for the public stimulus packages that have provided relief to millions of Americans. We can no longer sit by and allow our community marginalized and left to die. I will continue to push for progressive legislation that is inclusive of everyone regardless of immigration status.”

“We are standing at the epicenter of the epicenter of this crisis. This pandemic has absolutely devastated our community, but the federal, state, and city governments have failed to respond adequately,” said City Council Member Francisco Moya. “It’s time for Mayor de Blasio to step up for immigrant communities, who need real investment and attention, not austerity plans that will cut services that are even more vital in this moment.”

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