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The unemployment fee from COVID-19 hit immigrants hardest in Latina

By and large, the COVID-19 recession has hit women more than men as women are heavily represented in service occupations, which have been hardest hit by pandemic closings and restrictions. This also means that younger employees and employees without a university degree were disproportionately affected by pandemic-related unemployment. All of these categories overlap with Latina immigrants, who are on average younger than other U.S. workers, have fewer educational qualifications, and are more likely to work in industries hit by the COVID-19 recession.

In US coverage and analysis of the impact of the pandemic on "Americans", it is unclear whether the 11 million undocumented immigrants are reflected in the data. Julia Gelatt, a senior policy analyst with the MPI's U.S. immigration policy program, told Prism that when her organization looked at unemployment rates, it examined all immigrants, including naturalized citizens, legal permanent residents, undocumented immigrants, and agency workers – essentially all who did so was born outside of the United States.

“Job loss hits unauthorized immigrants much harder in some ways, as they do not have access to the security nets that legal US citizens can access. Unauthorized immigrants are not eligible for unemployment insurance, they were not eligible for stimulus checks, and depending on their children's citizenship status, they may or may not be able to get a small amount of food stamps just for their children. “Said Gelatt. “Much of the safety net available, no matter how inadequate for other US workers, is not at all available to unauthorized migrant workers. Your only sources of support are private charities – help from a church or help from a pantry. "

The Urban Institute in May predicted The job and income losses associated with the pandemic would likely pay a "particularly heavy toll" to Latinx adults who are not citizens. This was certainly true of Marcela Rodrigues-Sherley, an asylum seeker from Brazil who currently lives in New York. An English-speaking recent college graduate, the 25-year-old says she is “more privileged than most” among Latina immigrants, but when COVID-19 hit during her final college semester, she lost everything– her apartment and the three jobs that kept her afloat as a full-time student.

In March, the University of Rodrigues-Sherley in western Massachusetts notified students that they could no longer live on campus and that all jobs on campus would be frozen. Because of her immigration status, she was part of a tiny percentage of students who were moved to single rooms on campus and allowed to stay there, but had to adhere to strict social distancing rules or they would be kicked off campus. For the most part, this meant the students couldn't leave their rooms, not even to eat on campus. Given that Rodrigues-Sherley had just lost her job at the campus cultural center reception, assisting a professor, and babysitting, it meant spending the whole day alone in a small room on an abandoned campus, far from her once busy and busy life.

"I got really, really depressed," said Rodrigues-Sherley. “I started struggling very badly with my sanity. I can't explain how tight I felt. It was as if everything had changed in an instant. "

Her depression got so bad that she couldn't focus on doing the tasks she needed to graduate. For reasons of sanity, she left Western Massachusetts on a $ 1 bus ticket to New York City. Her partner lived in the city and the couple had already planned to live together after graduation. At the time, New York City was the beast's belly, the epicenter of the US COVID-19 crisis. It was eerily quiet when she arrived, but Rodrigues-Sherley said her mood brightened immediately as soon as she was safe.

We have come a long way since the move in early April. After Rodrigues-Sherley published her thesis, she joined millions of people across the country looking for work during the pandemic, but she had an additional barrier. Until the U.S. citizenship and immigration authorities mailed her work permit, she couldn't work legally. As an added setback, it happened around the same time as almost 70% USCIS staff were concerned about the pandemic, which was creating a backlog for immigrants waiting for important documents.

Rodrigues-Sherley graduated and got her work permit in July, but it wasn't easy to find a job. She was turned down "over and over again" even when applying for jobs in the service industry in places like Starbucks and Chipotle. The new college graduate was eventually hired to work at the front desk of a coworking space, but the job didn't last long after she quit due to a racist incident. Now she is trying her hand at freelance journalism, another industry hit by the pandemic. As a prism recently reportedFreelance work is a particular challenge for women of color journalists, and COVID-19 has only made it worse.

Like other Latina immigrants who are excluded from even the limited benefits for American citizens, Rodrigues-Sherley has relied heavily on mutual help and personal relationships to help survive the pandemic financially and emotionally. As COVID-19 rates rose in the US, the 25-year-old urged Americans to remember that the stakes for immigrant communities are extremely high.

"For many people in the community, things have felt very hopeless," said Rodrigues-Sherley. "I'm just looking forward to the day when not every day is all about survival."

Tina Vasquez is a senior reporter for Prisma. She deals with gender equality, labor rights and immigration. Follow her on Twitter @TheTinaVasquez.

Prism is a nonprofit news agency run by BIPOC that puts the spotlight on the people, places and topics that our national media currently does not cover. Through our original reporting, analysis and commentary, we challenge dominant, toxic narratives that are immortalized by the mainstream press, and work to create a complete and accurate record of what is happening in our democracy. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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