Will Jobs Come Back?

As New York continues its “re-opening” in the face of Covid-19, those who lost employment wonder if their jobs will come back. For immigrants, the jobs were often low-paid, seasonal and/or insecure to begin with. Former employers may be unable to regain their customers quickly, as in the restaurant industry, so their need for workers may shrink.

We already see evidence in federal job reports that gains are likely to be slowest or even negative for this segment of the workforce. Income insecurity, and the need for assistance, will linger on. But the social safety net of unemployment compensation, emergency relief, and so on, will remain unavailable to our friends. So UIDN will continue raising and distributing help for the foreseeable future.

Will Housing be Safe, Affordable, and Available?

Our immigrant friends are typically limited to rental housing which is “unaffordable,” meaning that it claims over 30% of their income, leaving too little for other needs.  That same housing is usually run down, overcrowded, and sometimes with water supplies that are unsafe for human consumption.

Immigrants are not the only people in Ulster County with these problems, and there are no quick fixes on the horizon. Often, landlords are also squeezed by the cost of maintenance and mortgage payments. In short, the market for low-income renters works very badly for meeting human needs in most parts of the U.S.

It gets even worse when some of that housing is withdrawn by speculators and replaced by new “gentrified” units serving a higher income population. Such actions displace existing renters and add to the number of homeless individuals and families.

These persistent housing needs have motivated many groups across New York to coalesce and work for state-level reforms of the low-income housing market and for public investment in truly affordable housing.

While UIDN will continue, within our limited means, to support the immediate housing needs of immigrants, we know that we cannot resolve this problem with donations and volunteers.  We are therefore exploring with other advocate groups how to push for important public policy changes around housing.

Will there be School in the Fall?

As the current school year comes to a frazzled end, few plans are in place to use the summer for catching up on all that kids missed since March. If schools reopen in September, will they be safe for kids and teachers and their families?  If schools remain closed, how will school systems work proactively to ensure that immigrant children can access effective online technologies?

Immigrant households do not often have access to social media that school systems relied on this spring.  We will be watching to see where we can make a difference. When schools do fully reopen, our after school volunteers will go back to Chambers Elementary and maybe some additional sites. For that, we’ll need more volunteers. Apply here if you are interested.

If you know an employer, please encourage them to follow these guidelines. Click
on the image above to download and print it as a flyer. Learn more about good practices and training,
NE New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health.

When will Federal Immigration Check-ins & Hearings Resume?

One small relief that came with the pandemic, for immigrants seeking asylum, was the temporary interruption of ICE check-ins — those periodic appointments that immigrants must keep, usually in New York City, while their applications for relief remain endlessly pending.

The federal administrative courts that rule on these applications have also suspended their sessions. But all is ready to resume during June. Helping immigrants make the periodic trek to the Bronx and lower Manhattan and find their way around the City was one of the earliest forms of our assistance. It’s expensive, but critical, and we are ready to do it again.

We hope this UPDATE has helped keep you informed about Ulster Immigrant Defense Network and the community we serve.

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