Things That Matter

Chicago’s Mayor Is Stepping Up Where Others Have Failed, Makes Undocumented Residents Eligible For Coronavirus Relief Programs

The sweeping Coronavirus stimulus packaged signed into law by President Trump promises a huge infusion of cash into a struggling economy. However, the bill explicitly denies much-needed benefits to some of the most vulnerable communities in the county – including most undocumented residents.

Several progressive politicians have called out the original bill for this major omission but so far have failed to get a bill passed that would bring benefits to communities currently not eligible.

Meanwhile, city and state officials have been working to make sure their programs are eligible to all residents – regardless of legal status.

Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot is leading the way by making sure all residents in her city who need help – can get it.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday issued an executive order granting undocumented immigrants and refugees, who are sometimes forgotten, a variety of city benefits, including money from the city’s Small Business Resiliency Loan Program.

”This order is more than just an official decree, it is a statement of our values as a city and as Americans,” she said in a statement on Tuesday. “Since COVID-19 first reached our city’s doorstep, we have been working around the clock to ensure all our residents are secure and supported, including our immigrant and refugee communities, who are among the most vulnerable to the impact of this pandemic.”

“Here in Chicago, saying ‘we are all in this together’ means that during this crisis, no one gets left out and no one gets left behind,” she added.

The city of Chicago has launched several programs in order to help residents cope with the financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Credit: LatinQuarterORD / Instagram

Under the executive order, Lightfoot’s office said all residents in the city, regardless of their birthplace or citizenship status, will have access to the city’s newly-established COVID-19 Housing Assistance Grant program and online resources offered through Chicago public schools for students, among other benefits.

Michael Rodriguez, who serves as alderman of the 22nd Ward in Chicago, praised Lightfoot for the move in a statement, while pointing to coronavirus relief legislation recently passed by Congress that will give relief checks to most Americans but not nonresident aliens and people who don’t have Social Security numbers.

“Not all of Chicago’s residents qualify for federal stimulus checks, state unemployment insurance or other economic assistance due to their documentation status,” Rodriguez said. “These Chicagoans are vital community members who work in various industries and help our great city to thrive every day.”

The Mayor has overwhelming support for her plan from much of the city.

Credit: @chicagosmayor / Twitter

Many City Council members have bemoaned that the federal government didn’t do enough to help undocumented immigrants with legislation. But the city can also do more, said 35th Ward Alderman, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa. That includes creating an immigrant resiliency fund, which he has asked the mayor to do, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

George Cardenas, alderman for Chicago’s 12th Ward, also commended the mayor for the executive order in a statement.

“Most individuals in our immigrant community labor in industries pummeled by the COVID-19 crisis, such as restaurants and hotels,” he said. “Although many of these workers collectively pay billions of dollars in taxes, they are excluded from the federal aid package signed by Congress. We must meet this moment together; no one should be excluded.” 

The mayor’s plan tries to fill the gap left behind by Congress’ federal stimulus bill.

Credit: WhiteHouse.gov

Congress passed a $2.2 trillion relief bill in late March that provides major financial assistance to Americans struggling under the coronavirus pandemic. The stimulus package includes a $1,200 payout to eligible U.S. citizens, and allocates $350 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses.

However, progressive politicians have criticized the bailout package for excluding some of the most vulnerable communities among us. House Democrats introduced the Leave No Taxpayer Behind Act, a bill that calls for extending much-needed benefits to tax-paying undocumented residents.

The Chicago mayor is not alone in setting aside benefits for the undocumented community.

Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Governors Pool

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Friday that his administration has established a state fund to provide relief to businesses run by individuals living in the U.S. without proper documentation.

Lightfoot, for her part, has long been a virulent critic of immigration enforcement, and has established sanctuary policies that forbid local police cooperation with ICE.

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Chicago’s Mi Tocaya Is Offering Up Free Mexican Homemeals For Undocumented Community

Culture

Chicago’s Mi Tocaya Is Offering Up Free Mexican Homemeals For Undocumented Community

mitocaya / Instagram

Undocumented communities are being left out of Covid relief plans. Chef Diana Dávila of Mi Tocaya in Chicago is working to help undocumented restaurant worker in the time of Covid. Abuse of undocumented workers is rampant in certain industries and Chef Dávila hopes to offer some kind of help.

Mi Tocaya is a Mexican restaurant in Chicago’s Logan Square that wants to help the community.

Covid-19 has devastated the hospitality industry with restaurants being hit exceptionally hard. Restaurants have been forced to close their doors for good as the virus dragged on with no decent relief plan from the federal government. As several countries financially support citizens to avoid economic disaster, the U.S. government has given citizens $1,800 total to cover 10 months of isolating and business closures.

Namely, Mi Tocaya is working to help the undocumented community.

Mi Tocaya, a family-run restaurant, is teaming up with Chicago’s Top Chefs and local non-profits Dishroulette Kitchen and Logan Square Neighborhood Association. The goal is to highlight the issues facing the undocumented community during the pandemic.

The initiative called Todos Ponen, is all about uplifting members of our community in a time of severe need. The restaurant is creating healthy Mexican family meals for those in need.

”We asked ourselves; How can we keep our doors open, provide a true service to the community, maintain and create jobs, and keep the supply chain intact by supporting local farmers and vendors. This is the answer,” Chef Dávila said in a statement. “I confidently believe The TODOS PONEN Logan Square Project addresses all of the above and can very well be easily implemented in any community. Our goal is to bring awareness to the lack of resources available to the undocumented workforce- the backbone of our industry.”

The initiative starts in February.

Mi Tocaya is offering 1000 free meals for local farmers and undocumented restaurant workers. The meals are available for pickup Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 2800 W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647. to make this happen, Mi Tocaya also needs your help.

The restaurant has teamed up with two nonprofits to make sure that they can scale their operation to fulfill their commitment. They are also asking for donations to make sure they can do what they can to help undocumented restaurant workers.

According to Eater LA, 8 million restaurant workers have been laid off since the pandemic started. Some restaurants have had to lay off up to 91 percent of their staff because of Covid, about 10 percent of those are undocumented. In the cities, that number is as high as 40 percent of the laid-off restaurant staff are undocumented.

“People don’t want to talk about the undocumented workforce, but they’re part of our daily routine in most restaurants,” Jackson Flores, who manages the operations of Mi Tocaya, said in a statement. “They are in the toughest position in the whole economy because they’re an invisible part of it. Restaurant worker advocacy groups have added the creation of relief funds to their agendas, but there have yet to be long-term changes in protections for undocumented workers. Without access to unemployment benefits and other government resources, this group is especially vulnerable.”

READ: Hands-Free Cholula Dispensers Have Become a Thing In Restaurants Because of COVID-19

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Mexican Officials Point To Provision In USMCA That Safeguards Migrants’ Health

Things That Matter

Mexican Officials Point To Provision In USMCA That Safeguards Migrants’ Health

Healthcare is a universal right. However, it’s one that depends on your immigration status in the United States, unfortunately. This has become more evident with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine as many officials across the country are saying that they will not offer the vaccine to undocumented residents.

It’s long been known that the country’s Brown and Black residents have long suffered the consequences of inequality in the nation’s healthcare system. But now, as those very communities are hit the hardest by the pandemic, they’re being denied the one tool we have to help relieve the community’s suffering.

Update January 14, 2021

Mexican officials are ready to invoke parts of the North American trade agreement to ensure vaccines for undocumented migrants.

Earlier this month, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts announced that undocumented people will not be included in the vaccination plan. He has since attempted to at least partially walk back those comments. Mexico immediately raised the alarm and offered to help undocumented migrants in the U.S. receive the vaccine.

According to Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) has provisions about the health of migrant workers. In the agreement, which President Trump touts as his accomplishment, the countries have agreed to safeguard the lives of migrant workers.

Minister Ebrand is prepared to invoke the provision designed to protect vulnerable migrant workers. As stated in a press conference, the Mexican government is prepared to consider any effort not to vaccinate undocumented migrants in the U.S. a violation of the trade agreement.

Mexico’s AMLO offers to vaccinate migrants who are unlawfully living in the U.S.

Mexico’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), recently announced that he was ready to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to undocumented residents living in the United States.

“It’s a universal right. We would do it,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said before his regular daily press conference after the press asked him if Mexico would step up to help vaccinate undocumented migrants living in the U.S. – many of whom are Mexican nationals.

Although, like many of AMLO’s promises, he offered little in the way of details and many are rightfully skeptical of the promise given his government’s limited ability to deliver the vaccine to people within his own country. It also wasn’t clear which migrants in the U.S. would qualify under AMLO’s vaccine rollout.

AMLO announced his intentions after officials in Nebraska said undocumented residents wouldn’t be eligible.

AMLO raised the possible vaccination program after the governor of Nebraska said that undocumented residents of his state likely wouldn’t get vaccinated due to their immigration status.

“You’re supposed to be a legal resident of the country to be able to be working in those plants, so I do not expect that illegal immigrants will be part of that vaccine with that program,” Governor Ricketts said during a coronavirus briefing.

Gov. Pete Ricketts is a member of Trump’s Republican Party but his comments about workers in Nebraska’s meat-packing plants provoked criticism from public health and migrant advocates.

Roberto Velasco, a senior Mexican diplomat for North America, responded to Ricketts on Twitter. “To deprive undocumented essential workers of #covid19 vaccination goes against basic human rights,” he wrote on Twitter, including Ricketts’ Twitter handle and citing text from the U.N.’s declaration of human rights.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leader of pro-migrant progressives in the Democratic party of President-elect Joe Biden, also spoken out firmly against Ricketts’ statement.

“Imagine being so racist that you go out of your way to ensure that the people who prepare *your* food are unvaccinated,” she wrote on Twitter.

Undocumented residents fill many of the nation’s riskiest “essential” jobs.

Study after study have shown that most of the nation’s “essential workers” are people of color – with a large number being undocumented migrants. The same applies to the country’s meat-packing jobs.

According to the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute, it estimates 11% of Nebraska’s meat-packing workers – and 10% of the workers nationwide – lack legal immigration status.

Meanwhile, since the pandemic began, there have been sporadic yet severe outbreaks of COVID-19 among meat-packing plants in the U.S., helping spread the virus around rural America where the plants are concentrated.

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