Latinx Workers Face Unemployment, Worries About Making Rent In Pandemic: Survey

A survey of Latinx immigrants in several states last year found that two-thirds were unemployed at one point, and 1 in 6 had lost a family member to COVID-19.

A survey of Latinx immigrants in the U.S. detailed the disproportionate economic distress and loss the community has faced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

A report released Thursday by the Center for Popular Democracy detailed survey results from conversations with 900 immigrants from April through November 2020 across six states: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Nevada. The vast majority of those surveyed were Latinx and 400 of them were undocumented.

Two-thirds of the Latinx immigrants surveyed had faced unemployment at some point last year amid the pandemic. Only 1 in 10 received unemployment insurance and only 37% got federal stimulus checks. Three-quarters of those surveyed were worried about not making rent.

As a deadly virus spread throughout the country, more than half of those surveyed did not have health insurance — with that number climbing to 88% for undocumented people.

An alarming 44% of Latinx immigrants reported being sick themselves or having a loved one sick with COVID-19. In some states, 1 in 6 Latinx immigrants surveyed had lost a family member to the virus.

One unnamed Connecticut worker said in the report that their hours had been reduced due to the pandemic: “I have to go get food at a pantry so that we can have something to eat at home.”

Dozens of workers rallied in several states on Thursday calling for Congress to swiftly pass a coronavirus relief package that includes undocumented immigrants.

Latinx immigrants make up significant portions of the front-line workers deemed “essential” — from grocery store and farmworkers to building cleaners — who are still going to work, risking their lives while millions of Americans stay home.

Meanwhile, undocumented workers are also overrepresented in fields that have seen massive layoffs due to COVID-19 restrictions, including the restaurant and hotel industries.

The U.S. hit the horrific milestone this week of half a million people dying from the virus. Latinx people have been disproportionately affected: They are three times as likely to be hospitalized as white, non-Latinx people in the U.S., and twice as likely to die.

Thursday’s survey findings echo similar reports from other groups throughout the pandemic: A survey by the National Domestic Workers Alliance late last year found that over one-third of house cleaners across the U.S. still had no work as of September — four times the rate reported before COVID-19.

As Congress negotiates over a new coronavirus relief package, Democratic lawmakers have been fighting to include undocumented immigrants among those eligible to receive federal stimulus checks after they were left out of the last two rounds.

Some Democratic lawmakers have also been pushing to fast-track undocumented essential workers for U.S. citizenship: “These are people who feed us, clean our homes and hospitals and offices ... and they do all this while living in fear of deportation, exploitation and now of this pandemic,” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) said last month.

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