MIDTOWN, Manhattan — On Easter Sunday, around 200 people gathered in front of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Midtown Manhattan office to pressure the state to approve a $3.5 billion “excluded workers fund” that would aid those who don’t qualify for federal stimulus, included undocumented immigrants.
The group, which included religious leaders, prayed, brought flowers and held signs, some in Spanish. All wanted to express the struggles these workers faced, including many who are on a hunger strike.
“On a hunger strike for 20 days, just water and liquids,” said Pastor Juan Carlos Ruiz of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. “They’ve been demanding the fund be created by taxing the wealthy, who have become wealthier throughout the pandemic”
They want the governor to look into his heart and think about the workers who have been on strike. The immigrant community in New York City is among the hardest hit due to COVID-19 — both because they’re getting sick and lack of work in the hospitality industry.
Many, including Leon, have received no financial assistance since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Many of their families have been fairing badly, given there is no other source of employment or aid coming from the city, state or federally,” said Pastor Ruiz.
The state assembly and senate have already set aside $2.1 billion in this year’s budget for excluded workers, though that’s far less than the $3.5 billion advocates are demanding.