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.

This Latino Comic Book, ‘El Peso Hero’ Is Paying Tribute To Essential Workers And It’s Exactly What We Need Right Now

Culture

This Latino Comic Book, ‘El Peso Hero’ Is Paying Tribute To Essential Workers And It’s Exactly What We Need Right Now

El Paso Hero / Rio Bravo Comics

If the Coronavirus pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that real-life heroes can be found all over. During the global crisis, regular people have realized that everyone from a fast food restaurant worker to a farmworker is a hero in their own way. It’s these people, many of whom are minorities, who have helped keep the country going during these unprecedented times. To so many of us, these front-line ‘essential workers’ are indeed heroes.

One Mexican-American comic book creator, Hector Rodriguez (of El Peso Hero) decided to put these real-life superheroes on the pages of his popular comic book and we couldn’t be more excited.

The best-selling comic book now features America’s front-line workers as the real heroes who are keeping the country running.

Credit: El Peso Hero / Rio Bravo Comics

Comic books are known for telling larger than life stories and inspiring their audiences – and that’s exactly what El Peso Hero is doing with his latest edition. Rodriguez is using El Peso Hero to tell the story of thousands of invisible workers – many of whom are undocumented Latino workers holding America together.

“Comic books are a great way to help people connect,” Rodríguez told NBC News. “But very few stories focus on the people who are feeding us.”

In this special pandemic issue, which is available for free, “El Peso Hero” takes a supporting role to a nurse and other essential workers facing tough day-to-day challenges as the country struggles to combat Covid-19.

In his interview with NBC News, Rodriguez said he hopes his comic can inspire Americans to reimagine themselves in the stories of millions of invisible workers who serve their communities.

It’s more important than ever to shine a light on the often invisible workers who are so vital to this country.

Credit: Salud America / Twitter

For Rodriguez, he hopes this edition will help shed light on the hard work and dedication of millions of invisible workers. People from all backgrounds can find common ground with these front-line workers who like so many Americans are simply trying to create a better life for themselves and their families.

“This is definitely a contrast from “El Peso Hero” fighting corruption, drug cartels, and racism on the border,” Rodríguez said. “Fans will see him in a supporting role to real-life heroes, helping a nurse bring medical masks to agricultural workers, and deliver a much needed message of solidarity and positivity to a community that is often marginalized in the shadows.”

Rodríguez himself comes from a family of immigrants — his grandfather moved from Mexico to Montana in the 1940s as a part of the Bracero Program, which brought in millions of authorized workers from Mexico to the U.S. to work on farms.

What inspired the El Peso Hero comic book series to begin with?

Credit: Rio Bravo Comics

El Peso Hero is a rogue hero standing up to Mexico’s cartels, corrupt border officials, and human traffickers.

Rodriguez told NBC News, “I wanted to create someone like Luke Cage in Harlem, but living in between southwest Texas and north Mexico, who fights cartels, and defends unaccompanied minors and families crossing the perilous border.”

It was stories his grandfather told about drug traffickers attacking vulnerable immigrants on the border that inspired him to create “El Peso Hero.”

“El Peso Hero” started off as a web comic in 2011, and is now scheduled to make its movie screen debut in 2021. The comic gained cross-border fame in 2015 after the Mexican superhero took on then presidential candidate Donald Trump — who started his campaign by saying Mexicans coming to the U.S. were rapists and criminals

This edition of El Peso Hero is so important and special given the bravery and selflessness of front-line workers.

Credit: Tom Barton / Getty

Across the country, millions of Latino workers, many of whom are undocumented, are working on farms, in meat packing plants and govern stores as “essential workers,” while much of the country is shut down for quarantine. Unlike many workers, they don’t have the privilege to work from home and instead are putting themselves and their families at risk to keep the country going.

Historically they are marginalized as outsiders and live in constant fear of deportation. But now the pandemic is showing how vital they really are to society.

The U.S. government calculates that roughly half of all crop farmworkers—1.18 million in 2019—are undocumented. A recent article from The New York Times reports that growers and labor contractors think it could be closer to 75 percent.

Violence In Mexico Is Expected To Get Even Worse Just As The Country Enters The Worst Phase Of The Pandemic

Things That Matter

Violence In Mexico Is Expected To Get Even Worse Just As The Country Enters The Worst Phase Of The Pandemic

Sergio Maldonado / Getty

On paper, Mexico has seemed to largely escape the worst of the Coronavirus pandemic. Although its leaders came under fire from many at the beginning of the outbreak, the healthcare system hasn’t collapsed and in many parts of the country, it’s largely been business as usual.

However, officials are warning that as the economic impacts of the pandemic begin to take hold, the country could be in store for a very violent 2020. And this dire warning comes as Mexico is already experiencing it’s deadliest year in modern history, unrelated to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Even with Coronavirus restrictions, deadly violence continues to rise in Mexico.

Officials had thought that with Coronavirus-related restrictions in place, much of the widespread violence that plagues the country would gradually be reduced as more people stayed at home. But with the 6,000 homicides between March and April, 2020 is shaping up to be the deadliest year in modern Mexican history – just after 2019 claimed the top spot last year.

So far in 2020, homicides have climbed by 2.4% in the first four months of the year, compared to 2019. In the first four months of this year, 11,535 murders were registered, up from 11,266 homicide in same period last year, preliminary data from the security ministry showed. Just over 34,600 murders were logged in Mexico in all of last year.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador pledged to bring down gang-fueled violence afflicting Mexico when he took office in December 2018, but homicides hit a record level in 2019 and have continued to climb even during the Coronavirus lockdown.

And now as the country begins to find a ‘new normal’ and slowly reopen, officials are warning that the situation will only get worse.

Credit: Henry Romero / Getty

Speaking at a “justice, transparency and Covid-19” conference, Santiago Nieto, the head of the government’s Financial Intelligence Unit, bluntly declared that an economic and security “crisis is obviously coming.”

He predicted that burglaries, financial fraud, human trafficking and child pornography offenses will be among the crimes that will increase. Mexico’s court system will consequently come under significant pressure, Nieto said.

For his part, the head of the Federal Protection Service, a division of the Security Ministry, told the newspaper El Universal that Mexico is likely to go through a “very rough” period of insecurity in the next three to six months.

Although the economic losses haven’t been as severe as in the U.S., Mexico was already in a precarious economic situation before the pandemic.

So far, the pandemic has left more than 750,000 Mexicans without work in the formal sector – this isn’t including the roughly 60% of Mexican society that works in the informal economy. And analysts and financial institutions are forecasting that the economy will suffer a deep recession in 2020.

Commissioner Manuel Espino Barrientos said the Coronavirus pandemic and the economic downturn caused by the mitigation measures put in place to limit the spread of the virus will leave Mexico in a “very complicated” security situation.

Violence and crime will increase because a lot of people “will not find work but they will be hungry,” Espino said.

Despite the economic downturn, a new poll shows that a majority of Mexicans support further extending strict stay-at-home orders.

Although Mexico’s President AMLO has repeatedly stated that the country’s Coronavirus pandemic is under control, that’s not what most Mexicans feel, according to a new poll.

Conducted by the newspaper El Financiero on May 22 and 23, the poll found that 52% of those polled believe that the Coronavirus situation has not been controlled.

Participants were then asked to offer an opinion on the government’s coronavirus mitigation measures, and 64% of poll respondents said that more restrictions should be enforced and stay-at-home orders/recommendations should be extended.