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N.Y. Faith Leaders, Advocates Rally For COVID Relief For Undocumented, Formerly Incarcerated

David J. Phillip

Faith leaders and advocates for immigrants rallied outside of New York state government buildings in Hauppauge to call on state lawmakers to provide pandemic relief for undocumented workers and formerly incarcerated people.

Those workers were ineligible for federal and state unemployment benefits even though many lost their jobs during the pandemic.

"People have honked their horns in celebration, made signs of gratitude, clapped their hands," said Reverend Ashley McFaul-Erwin with the Setauket Presbyterian Church. "And yet many of our essential beloved and celebrated workers have been excluded from government COVID support."
Glenn Cantave, with Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, wants the state to create a fund with $3.5 billion available to help these workers.

“Excluded workers are our taxpayers. They are not looking for ‘handouts.’ They are looking for basic dignity and human rights that should be here regardless but if you want to go the capitalist's argument: they paid into the system, they should reap the benefits of the system,” Cantave said.

The state Legislature has lined up over $2 billion for the fund. Budget negotiations with Governor Andrew Cuomo are ongoing.

They are supposed to agree on a budget by April 1.