Things That Matter

As People Lose Their Jobs, They’re Not Sending Money To Their Families Back Home And It’s Having A Major Impact On Local Communities

As the coronavirus continues its march around the world, economies from Brazil and Mexico to the United States and Colombia have been hit hard. The measures taken by governments to save lives have stalled economies, and are in the process of delivering a global recession. Economic contagion is now spreading as fast as the disease itself.

You don’t have to look any further than the unemployment numbers recorded each week in the United States. They’re at staggering, record-breaking levels. This huge impact on the U.S. economy, and its workers, is having an outsized impact on economies across Latin America as migrants aren’t able to send remittances back home to their families.

As the economic repercussions of the pandemic continue to grow, global remittances from migrants are being hit hard.

The pandemic is hitting jobs and wages in a variety of sectors of the global economy – including economies (like the U.S.) that depend on migrants. A global economic turndown will mean a slowdown in the amount of money these workers send back home to their families and will be crucial in spreading the economic contagion from richer countries to poorer ones.

For 2020, the International Monetary Fund is now predicting that the global economy will shrink by 3% – that’s a difference of trillions of dollars – and it will have trickle down effects on the world’s most vulnerable people.

Undocumented communities are especially vulnerable during economic downturns.

Credit: EqualityNYC / Instagram

Many of those who send remittances often work in the service industry and have been let go or furloughed from their jobs in hotels, restaurants or cleaning companies, without pay. Meanwhile, those who are undocumented cannot apply for unemployment, even though they likely contributed to state unemployment funds and paid taxes.

Even the recent federal stimulus bill – a $2 trillion dollar bill meant to dampen the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic – specifically left out undocumented migrants. It prevents even tax-paying migrants from receiving any federal aid. However, California has partnered with non-profits to become the first state to offer $500 in assistance to undocumented residents.

Remittances are crucial to the economies of poorer countries and help support millions of families.

Credit: @BancomerMX / Twitter

Remittances shelter a large number of poor and vulnerable households, underpinning the survival strategies of over 1 billion people. In 2019, an estimated 200 million people in the global migrant workforce sent home US$715 billion. Of this, it’s estimated US$551 billion supported up to 800 million households living in low- and middle-income countries.

And these families aren’t spending this money on cars and new computers. They’re spending it on everyday subsistence needs including food, medicines, and education. The World Bank projects that within five years, remittances will outstrip overseas aid and foreign direct investment combined, reflecting the extent to which global financial flows have been reshaped by migration.

In fact, global remittances hit record highs in 2018.

Credit: Pixabay

According to the World Bank, global remittances reached a record high in 2018, the last year for which figures are available. The flow of money to Latin America and the Caribbean grew by 10 percent to $88 billion in 2018, mostly due to the strong U.S. economy, where most of the money originates.

In many countries, remittances account for a significant portion of their gross domestic product. In Nicaragua and Guatemala they account for around 12 percent, and in El Salvador and Honduras, around 20 percent.

Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, asked Mexicans in the United States not to stop supporting their relatives back home. He said February set a record in remittances to Mexico.

“Tell your countrymen to not stop sending help to their families in Mexico, who are also going through a difficult situation,” he said at a recent news conference.

Many migrants to the U.S. feel a strong responsibility to send back as much as they can to help their families back home.

Credit: @FamiliesBelongTogether / Twitter

Many immigrants to the U.S. are worried about not being able to send money to their parents, children, or abuelos back home. Many relatives depend on those who have emigrated to the U.S. to pay for electricity, food, medicine, and doctor’s visits. But with many losing their own jobs – money is just too tight for many.

In an interview with NBC News, Lesbia Granados – from Honduras – said what many can relate to, “I am everything to my parents, and it’s my responsibility to take care of them, after they did so much for me.”

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Behind On Rent, Some Undocumented Residents Are Self-Evicting Rather Than Risking The Legal System

Things That Matter

Behind On Rent, Some Undocumented Residents Are Self-Evicting Rather Than Risking The Legal System

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Eviction is a terrifying prospect. Even more so amid a global pandemic and economic uncertainty. Imagine losing your house – a place you’ve called home with your family for months or even years. Unfortunately, it’s a reality that millions are facing as the Coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on the global economy, millions are plunged into unemployment, and millions more struggle to make ends meet – including the most basic necessity of paying the rent.

Several cities and states have enacted temporary rent freezes or holds on evictions but landlords are still threatening their renters with evictions. Some of the most vulnerable communities – such as undocumented residents – are left feeling hopeless and with no where to turn since they may be afraid to seek legal help and have less access to government-funded resources. As a result, many undocumented residents are choosing to self-evict rather than risk going up against a hostile legal system.

A new report details how many undocumented migrants are choosing to self-evict instead of fighting back.

The Texas Tribune published a feature story on a hard-to-track aspect of the coronavirus pandemic: Undocumented immigrants are “self-evicting” from apartments, even while eviction moratoriums are in place, out of fear of retribution. 

“On paper, an undocumented tenant has the same rights as anyone else during the eviction process,” the report says. “But housing attorneys and tenant and immigration advocates say undocumented immigrants are frequently hesitant to exercise those options. Their fear of the legal system and lack of access to government-funded financial help prompt many to self-evict, or prematurely leave the property.”

In some cases, undocumented immigrants don’t qualify for certain government assistance programs that could help them keep up with rent or remain in their homes, the report says. In other cases, some are afraid to seek assistance because they don’t want to attract attention from immigration officials, according to the report.

Because of that, some undocumented immigrants choose to leave their homes even before a formal eviction is filed, turning to family members and community organizations for emergency housing. Immigrants have also lost their jobs at higher rates during the pandemic than other groups.

The legal system is a hostile one towards undocumented residents and help perpetuate fear in the community.

As the Coronavirus pandemic’s economic effects began to be felt across the country, many renters found temporary relief in eviction moratoriums, federal pandemic relief payments, unemployment checks and rental assistance programs. Undocumented migrants, though, either don’t qualify for such aid or are afraid that merely seeking it will alert immigration authorities to their presence in a country whose president has called some immigrants “animals,” makes racist remarks and consistently tries to create barriers for migrants.

Meanwhile, courthouses are intimidating places. And the mere idea that ICE officials are sometimes present in them (and they have indeed arrested undocumented immigrants who have shown up for court hearings that a unrelated to their immigration status) has left many too fearful to even attempt a legal challenge to a potential eviction.

For some, it’s also a language barrier as not all legal systems provide bilingual services.

In the report, Adriana Godines, of Dallas Area Interfaith, says that “When they want to ask for help from a nonprofit, and the staff only speaks English, they feel intimidated and don’t want to go on.” She adds “Even if I tell them that there will be no problem and they won’t ask for your Social Security, they prefer not to [ask for help].”

And even people who go to the justice of the peace courts, where eviction cases are heard, face similar hurdles.

“A lot of JP courts won’t have bilingual speakers,” said Lizbeth Parra-Davila, a housing fellow at the University of Texas School of Law. “Throughout Texas, that has been the case where I’ll call JP courts and they’ll say, ‘Yeah, we don’t have any Spanish speakers. We don’t have any Spanish interpreters.”

However, there are resources out there for undocumented residents facing evictions.

Credit: Bebeto Matthews / Getty Images

States from California to Connecticut have implemented varying degrees of aide to undocumented immigrants within their states. In Connecticut for example, the state has issued a $1 million fund aimed at supporting immigrants with rent payments. In California, the state is working to make unemployment benefits available to undocumented residents, which would go a long way in helping people pay their rent. The state has also launched a fund that provides up to $1,000 in financial assistance to undocumented residents in the state. You can learn more here.

NAKASEC’s Emergency Mutual Aid Fund will provide up to $500 in financial assistance, you can find the application here.

There are many other programs available to the community in states all across the country. Several resources are detailed further at InformedImmigrant.com.

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People Have A Lot Of Opinions About The Argentina Episode Of Netflix’s ‘Street Food: Latin America’

Culture

People Have A Lot Of Opinions About The Argentina Episode Of Netflix’s ‘Street Food: Latin America’

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Netflix has a new food show out and it has everyone buzzing. “Street Food: Latin America” is bringing everyone the sabor of Latin America to their living room. However, reviews are mixed because of Argentina and the lack of Central American representation.

Netflix has a new show and it is all about Latin American street food.

Some of the best food in the world comes from Latin America. That is just a fact and it isn’t because our families and community come for Latin America. Okay, maybe just a little. The food of Latin America comes with history and stories that have shaped our childhood. For many of us, it is the only thing we have that connects us to the lands our families have left.

The show is highlighting the contributions of women to street food.

“Street Food: Latin America” focuses mainly on the women that are leading the street food cultures in different countries in Latin America. For some of them, it was a chance to bring themselves out of poverty and care for their children. For others, it was a rebellion against the male-dominated culture of cooking in Latin America.

However, some people have some strong opinions about the show and they aren’t good.

There is a lot of attention to native communities in the Latino community culturally right now. The Argentina episode where someone claims that Argentina is more European is rubbing people the wrong way right now. While the native population of Argentina is small, it is still important to highlight and honor native communities who are indigenous to the lands.

The disregard for the indigenous community is upsetting because indigenous Argentinians are fighting for their lives and land.

An A Jazeera report focused on an indigenous community in northern Argentina who were fighting to protect their land. After decades of discrimination and humiliation, members of the Wichi community fought to protect their land from the Argentinian government grabbing it in 2017. Early this year, before Covid, children of the tribe started to die at alarming rates of malnutrition.

Another pain point in the Latino community is the complete disregard of Central America.

Central America includes Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Belize, and Panama. Central America’s exclusion is not sitting right with Netflix users with Central American heritage. Like, how can five whole countries be looked over during a Netflix show about street food in Latin America?

Seems like there is a chance for Netflix to revisit Latin America for more food content.

There are so many countries in Latin America that offer delicious foods to the world. There is more to Latin America than Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, and Bolivia.

READ: This Iconic Mexican Food Won The Twitter Battle To Be Named Latin America’s Best Street Food

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