COVID-19 Pandemic Devastating Immigrant lives

Fear in the immigrant community created by COVID-19
By Griselda Amador,
CONTRIBUTOR
For millions of Americans forced to stay home due to COVID-19 restrictions this means losing a job, struggling to feed their children, pay the rent, and cover the bills.
While many Americans are feeling the effect of this new reality, there are those who because of their immigration status are more vulnerable. While the spread of the novel coronavirus has stifled the US economy, families continue to learn to cope with isolation at home and in many cases, suddenly confronting their own depression and despair.
However, despite experiencing the same economic recession, undocumented immigrants become even more affected, they will not receive the same federal aid that Americans will receive from Trump’s administration, which is based on an economic impact payment and will be up to $ 1,200 for an individual, $ 2,400 for a married couple, plus $ 500 for each child. American citizens who have lost their jobs can easily file for unemployment while undocumented immigrants don’t follow the requirements. The problem is that immigrants don’t have a real social security number and Americans do have one.
These immigrants face difficult times since not everyone has health insurance and therefore do not qualify for unemployment, which has expanded due to the pandemic crisis.
Among the affected, the Ponce family, who hold an immigrant status with two U.S. citizen children. The COVID-19 crisis-affected Jose Ponce’s family, who has resided in Newark CA for over 20 years. Ponce and his wife are undocumented and have two U.S. citizen children.
“I am concerned about this situation, at the moment I can not work and another month of rent is coming, the bills too and we have to feed ourselves. I do not know what will happen if the money does not last during the quarantine,” Ponce states.
For Ponce, it has also meant not being able to depend on government aid, even though he paid taxes and has lived in the United States for several years.
Aside from many other concerns for immigrants, the risk of being affected by COVID-19 and not having health insurance is another challenge.
“While I am not working and I am quarantining my children, my wife is currently working at McDonald’s, which is good and at the same time it is not, because I worry about her, she is at risk of contracting the virus and spread it to others even to my children or me, and if that happens, what will we do if we do not have health insurance?” Ponce stated.
Ponce’s family faces a difficult situation in this crisis by exposing themselves to risk or risking homelessness. Immigrants are at increased risk of exposure to the virus because many cannot afford not to work and often have jobs that require interaction with large numbers of people.
Undocumented immigrants play an essential role in the U.S. workforce. Although millions of people, including immigrants and Americans, were forced to stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, also millions continue to work to keep the country functioning. Given this, essential worker immigrants continue to work while they risk contracting the virus.
However, it is a risk they take in order to survive economically during this pandemic since they cannot obtain the same help that the American citizens receive from the government while quarantining at home.