SEVERAL immigrant groups are banding together to demand an inclusive and just recovery in Los Angeles County.
During the “Immigrants Are LA” event, the coalition called on the LA County Board of Supervisors to stop excluding immigrants from the county’s budget, stressing that many members of the community couldn’t access some federal relief benefits in the CARES Act, as well as parts of the American Rescue Plan because of their status.
“We are here representing over 75 organizations from the AAPI community, from the Latinx community, from the Black immigrant community, from all different communities around Los Angeles County, to demand that the American Rescue Plan funds — the $1.9 billion that are coming to Los Angeles County — are fairly shared and fairly distributed to the immigrant community for a fair and just recovery for all,” Aquilina Soriano Versoza, the executive director of the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) said on Wednesday, May 19.
Immigrants make up 35% of LA County’s population, of which 75% are people of color. Over half of the community’s population identify as Latinx, 15% identify as AAPI, and 8% identify as Black, according to the coalition.
On its website, the “Immigrants Are LA” coalition noted that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the weaknesses in federal, state, and county safety nets by exacerbating the many barriers immigrants face.
More than 30% of Latinas lost their jobs compared to their white counterparts.
Additionally, seven out of 10 residents in Southeast L.A. County reported lost jobs or wages during the pandemic.
“We need to make sure that immigrants get their fair share of support and resources,” stressed Versoza.
“So that as Los Angeles county, we can thrive together, we could recover together because there is no recovery without a recovery of the immigrant community of Los Angeles,” she added.
Bamby Salcedo, founder of the L.A.-based TransLatina Coalition, further explained the importance of the cause.
“Immigrant people have been instrumental in making sure that Los Angeles is what it is today. And that is why it is important that we demand that the board of supervisors invest in the lives of our immigrant communities,” she said.
According to her, the community’s demands are “very simple,” listing housing and cash assistance as some of them.
“We are demanding for housing. We need to support our people with basic elements. That’s what helps us to sustain ourselves. Not even to thrive. We are asking for basic things, and housing is one of the most essential things that people need in order to survive,” explained Salcedo.
She added, “Our people have been the most affected through this pandemic. We know that people of color…have been disproportionately impacted by this government. And because of that, it’s important that we provide our people with cash assistance for them to be able to buy again those essential things that we need in order for us to survive.”
Salcedo also emphasized the need for the board of supervisors to address the disparities that the immigrant community has experienced for many years.
“We want equity and the distribution of funds. It’s not fair that immigrant people continue to be left behind. It’s not acceptable to just continue to beg for the things that we need. We need to demand,” she said.
The LA office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) echoed the same sentiment.
“We’re not asking, we’re demanding that the board of supervisors allocate funds to our community. We are your nurses. We are your janitor. We are your servers. We are your grocery workers, essential workers. We are your doctors, your engineers…We deserve to be looked at and served the funds that our taxpayer dollars are going into,” said Fayaz Nawabi, CAIR policy and advocacy manager.
“CAIR stands in solidarity with this coalition. We demand that the board of supervisors allocates the funds accordingly to make sure all of our community are represented with the funds that we give through this wonderful government of ours,” he added.
Further into the “Immigrants Are LA” event, some members of the immigrant community stepped up to share how they were directly impacted by the pandemic.
Some of them lost their jobs during the pandemic, and some lost their place of living.
As the pandemic continues to take its toll on the immigrant community, the “Immigrants Are LA” campaign stressed that it’s going to continue taking action.
“Immigrants make up 35% of L.A. county, and therefore, there should be a dedicated 45% of the ARP fund to the immigrant community,” Versoza pointed out as she concluded the event.
She reiterated, “The fact is immigrants are LA, and there’s no just recovery without a recovery of the immigrant community of Los Angeles.” (AJPress)