‘I’m scared right now’: U.S. migrants excluded from stimulus aid fret

Activists gather outside Manhattan's Church of the Ascension to promote the rights of household cleaners in New York, U.S.

Many Americans have seen stimulus checks hit their bank accounts in recent days, but some, including many migrants living in the United States illegally, are excluded from receiving the aid.

In New York, immigrant advocate groups like the New York Immigrant Coalition (NYIC) and Make the Road are pushing for the state to pass a $3.5 billion fund to help them.

“Street vendors, these are people who are out there providing services every day… but yet they’re not eligible for stimulus,” said Theresa Thanjan, manager of member engagement at the NYIC.

“Those folks are completely left out … so we’re trying to find a way to support them,” said Thanjan.

Reyna, who declined to give her last name, said she had not received any stimulus and was unsure how she would cope.

“I have a job for every eight days, working, making $80. And I can’t live off $80,” she said. “I am scared right now. I owe two months of rent.”

She said she had lived in the New York area for more than two decades after crossing the border from Mexico, and works as a house cleaner.

At a rally on Thursday to promote the rights of cleaners, Reyna, who lives with her two young children, said she was able to find steady cleaning gigs five days a week before last year’s lockdown. But the jobs have since dwindled to one.

An activist with Make the Road, Reyna recounted how some of her fellow cleaners have braved the pandemic only to end up catching the coronavirus while on the job.

“It all stresses me out, looking for money,” she said. “What am I going to do?”

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