JCR had been a cook for 15 years, never struggling to find a job in New York city, where his friends would always find a place for him in a restaurant’s kitchen.
But when Covid-19 hit the city in March last year, work that immigrants had relied on vanished seemingly overnight, especially jobs in hospitality, events and cleaning.
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While the restaurant industry in the city is now in recovery and struggling to re-employ workers it had laid off, jobs were extremely hard to find last year, JCR says.
After he lost his job he could not find another one in the food industry as the city became the global epicenter of the disease. “Only essential or very experienced workers were being hired,” he realized.
Many of his friends in the restaurant industry moved to construction, and there he finally got a part-time gig after months of searching.
JCR’s experiences are similar to thousands of immigrants from Latin America – and one that Documented, a local newsroom that covers immigration in the area, was able to quickly identify via its WhatsApp service, a Spanish-language channel that provides undocumented New Yorkers with valuable information.
Last August, five months into the pandemic, the newsroom asked its undocumented readers how they were dealing with the Covid-19 crisis and as dozens of answers started to pour in, some common struggles became evident.
The questions about places to find food or ways to get economic help became more and more frequent, said Mazin Sidahmed, co-executive director of Documented.
“From the messages, and interviews we were doing, we could see all too clearly just how difficult the pandemic has been for what is already a vulnerable group – and one which US cities like New York rely on for so much.
“The struggles have been heartbreaking, and the resilience has been heroic.”
By Aldana Vales of DOCUMENTED
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