Low-income and Undocumented Immigrants Struggle Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Protesters stand outside Otay Mesa Detention Center during a "Vigil for Carlos" rally on May 9, 2020 in Otay Mesa, California. - The vigil was held to commemorate Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia, the first illegal immigrant who died of COVID-19 related symptoms while being held at the detention Center. (SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

In a state where more than a quarter of residents are foreign-born, many low-income and undocumented immigrants have dealt with heavy burdens during the coronavirus pandemic. The biggest challenges involve high infection rates, loss of income, and feeling forced to continue working in high-risk environments. Many programs designed to give financial assistance to undocumented workers are running dry as the pandemic persists. Meanwhile, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that processes immigration applications, plans to furlough more than two-thirds of its staff in coming months due to budget cuts. That move could significantly delay citizenship and green card applications as well as asylum cases. We discuss how low-income and undocumented immigrants in California are faring during the coronavirus pandemic.


Farida Jhabvala Romero, immigration reporter, KQED News

Carolina Martin Ramos, director of programs and advocacy, Centro Legal de la Raza

Denea Joseph, immigrants rights advocate and DACA recipient, UndocuBlack Network