New Yorkers help relieve immigrant workers amid pandemic

NEW YORK — Edith Mendoza is reliving a trauma she worked hard to overcome.

“You know, Damayan members who work in daily stores, bodegas, Dunkin Donuts, are not allowed to wear masks or gloves while working. They are contacting coronavirus from constantly being exposed to customers. Thinking about those also triggers my emotions.”

Mendoza was a trafficked domestic worker and now works to help fellow Filipinos as an organizer for Damayan Migrant Workers Association in New York.

The coronavirus pandemic she said is hitting the Filipino migrant community really hard.

“Not only mental, only physical, as I mentioned it’s everything. Everything, because they are used to sending money to the Philippines, because they are the breadwinner or they are sending money for their families. It creates so much anxiety and depression.”

According to Damayan’s recent survey of 80 members, 65 percent are now out of jobs. Many are sick or recovering from COVID-19.

“Filipinos are usually resourceful, but it’s extremely the worst scenario. The real storm of life is just beginning.”

The group certainly welcomed efforts by NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio who announced some emergency relief funds for all immigrant workers — even the undocumented.

The aid provides $400 per person, $800 dollars for a couple or single parent with children and $1,000 for a family with multiple adults and children.

“That is to help immigrants who are bearing the brunt of this crisis in so many ways, and that includes those immigrants who will not be getting any of that Federal relief.  And we have to be clear, they are our neighbors, they are fellow New Yorkers, they are part of our communities but they are not being included in a lot of those important Federal relief programs.” 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, on the other hand, won’t commit to providing relief for undocumented immigrants affected by the deadly virus outbreak citing the state’s budget crisis.

For now, community groups are doing their part to help.

“What Damayan is trying to do now is to keep organizing, mobilizing our board members to find a way, to raise money to help our kababayans.”

If you’d like to donate to Damayan’s COVID 19 Sagip Tulong Pilipino efforts, reach them through Facebook.

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