'We need this help' -- Immigrant workers march across NYC bridges demanding economic relief
Hundreds of workers who say they've been shut out of economic relief during the pandemic took to the streets of New York City Friday, demanding the state provide much-needed help.
The workers, mostly undocumented, are demanding New York lawmakers recognize their plight and pass a bill that would create an "excluded worker fund" in the state budget. The $4.6 billion fund would provide $825 a week to people who are struggling to get by.
They marched across the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges Friday hoping to get that message across loud and clear.
Esperanza Ramos from Yonkers is hopeful someone will listen.
"It's affecting us -- pay rent, buy food and medicine, and most importantly, our children," said Ramos. "We've been excluded from all government help. We need this help."
Make the Road New York helped organize the march of the workers, who were excluded from federal stimulus and unemployment benefits all while being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
"These folks are about to hit one year -- one year with any support from the government," said Julissa Bisono, of Make the Road New York.
Many undocumented immigrants have been out of work, leaning on nonprofits for meals and help avoiding illegal evictions that are common in the undocumented community.
"We cannot wait for the federal [government] to do it," Bisono said. "We have to take action now."
Sen. Shelley Mayer is a cosponsor of the bill, which has not yet passed in either chamber. The state budget is due April 1.