Unprecedented Challenges Faced by Coalitions in NYC During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges to coalitions in New York City, from xenophobia and racism to economic hardship and exclusion from government programs. The city and state must take action to combat xenophobia and racism, protect immigrant workers, and promote immigrant-owned businesses, while ensuring that victims of hate crimes can access the New York State Hate Crimes Task Force in multiple languages. According to research conducted by the Center for an Urban Future (CUF) and interviews with two dozen nonprofit organization leaders, immigrants in New York are suffering from unprecedented economic problems due to the pandemic and yet have been practically excluded from government programs created for those in need. Interviews with nearly two dozen nonprofit organization leaders who work closely with immigrants in the five boroughs reveal that New York immigrants are facing unprecedented economic pain due to the pandemic and yet have been almost completely excluded from government stimulus programs created for those in need.

The crisis has put New York City's nonprofit organizations that target and serve immigrants to the test, as they have rapidly allocated resources to affected communities in the five boroughs and, at the same time, have incurred significant new costs. Gonzalo Mercado, member of the La Colmena board of directors and coordinator in New York of the National Network for the Organization of Day Labor, states: “About 99.9 percent of the community that La Colmena works with is not eligible to receive the federal stimulus check, despite having children born in the United States. The New Sanctuary Coalition argues that the city should create a new fund to provide unemployment assistance to anyone who does not qualify for state unemployment because of their immigration status.” Even during a global pandemic, the Trump Administration's aggressive detention and deportation activities continue, sowing fear in immigrant communities and increasing the risk that New Yorkers who end up in detention will be exposed to COVID-19. Driven by the xenophobic messages of the Trump administration in the early days of the crisis, New York's diverse Asian communities claim to have suffered alarming levels of racism and vitriol, with consequences both for personal well-being and safety, as well as for their ability to recover economically.

CUF's ongoing research on immigrants in the arts in New York has been supported by the New York Community Trust, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Laurie M. While changes directly target a relatively small subgroup of New York immigrants, they have had a paralyzing effect on those seeking access to benefits in immigrant communities. The city and state must ensure that immigrant New Yorkers can effectively access care for COVID-19 and fund Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) that provide services to immigrants and are led by immigrants to educate communities about health access and coverage, while expanding programs to provide mental health services.

Meghan Stearnes
Meghan Stearnes

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