GAGE PARK — A grassroots effort aimed at helping undocumented families on the city’s Southwest Side impacted by coronavirus has raised more than $11,000 in four days.
The fund will help families in Gage Park, Little Village, Back of the Yards, Archer Heights and Pilsen, said Antonio Santos, director of the group.
The Gage Park Latinx Council, and organizers Samantha Martinez, Josémanuel Hernández and Cauria Duarte, set out to raise funds because they didn’t see “officials taking enough measures to help the undocumented community out in an impactful way,” Santos said.
The group set a goal to raise $10,000 and the group surpassed that initial goal. As of Tuesday morning, the page had raised more than 11,400.
The pandemic has highlighted how many of the predominately Latinx communities are “under-resourced and underrepresented in many ways…It’s kind of speaks to the way that we operate all the time,” Santos said.
For citizens or people with documentation, the pandemic has sparked fear over job security. Those fears are heightened with our undocumented communities because they don’t have mass access to relief options, Santos said.
The group has talked to undocumented workers in the service industry who have already lost their jobs because of the dine-in ban but they aren’t able to apply for unemployment or other federal and state programs, Santos said.
While $1,200 federal checks will be dolled out to many Americans and unemployment will be expanded to ease financial fears for the general public, undocumented workers who also pay taxes are excluded from receiving on such benefit or relief, Santos said.
So working-class families on the Southwest Side are banding together to donate what the can to help those in greater need and “balance the injustice,” Santos said.
“Many times undocumented workers are among the first to be let go because they are often seen as expendable in our society…There are also many who are self-employed including street vendors, mechanics, that no longer have people purchasing their goods and services,” Santos said.
The group wants to get the money to those who need it as soon as possible.
The group will post an application for families to apply for help from the fund on Thursday, so people can pay their rent, car payments, utility bills and buy groceries, Santos said.
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