Nearly 16.8 million unemployment claims were filed as of Apr. 9, bringing the unemployment rate to more than 10% and growing daily. Photo: Engin Aykurt, Unsplash.

Latinos are projected to be one of the most afflicted populations as coronavirus forces people to practice social distancing and work from home. The global coronavirus pandemic is affecting every aspect of American life. For millions of Latinos, economic hardship has led businesses to close and those who’ve been laid-off to file for unemployment.

Latinos account for 18.3% of the American population, according to the United States Census. Photo: Tim Boyle, Getty Images.

Working during coronavirus time 

Despite stay-at-home mandates in most states, only two-thirds of working Latinos are likely to get paid if they are forced to miss more than two weeks of work, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

Many of the Latinos considered “essential workers” must continue to risk their lives during these trying times. These include grocery store clerks, delivery staff, healthcare workers, and maintenance professionals. 

“If just 16% of Latinos are able to work from home, that means that the vast majority of Latino workers are either being forced to risk their health and keep working through the crisis, or have lost their income or their job,” Rep. Joaquin Castro, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, told The Hill.

Latino businesses contribute nearly $500 billion to the U.S. economy annually, according to the 2019 State of Latino Entrepreneurship report. Photo: Tim Sloan, Getty Images.

Businesses and the Latino workforce

Coronavirus has forced thousands of restaurants, bars, and non-essential businesses to lay off staff and shutter their doors in order to stop the infection’s deadly spread. 

Latino-owned businesses directly serving consumers in the foodservice, hospitality, and construction industries are some of the struggling workplaces that have grown by 34% within the past decade, according to a 2019 Stanford University study.

Even before coronavirus, Latino business owners dealt with systemic financial barriers such as not being able to obtain credit loans, or viable business partnerships that promote growth. This forced Latino entrepreneurs to back their businesses using personal credit cards and cash

At 71%, the majority of American farmworkers are immigrants, according to the National Agricultural Worker Survey. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg, Getty Images.

Undocumented community

Some of the estimated 2-3 million undocumented laborers who are deemed essential and still working to feed the nation, harvesting essential foods during the coronavirus pandemic. The field workers continue to provide grocers and supermarkets with produce that graces American tables across the country, but they lack protections and many struggle to feed themselves during the pandemic.

Congress recently passed a $2 trillion relief package for American citizens and businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, but undocumented workers have been left out of the Congressional discussion. 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is now calling on Congress to include the undocumented community in future coronavirus relief legislation. “In its next bill, Congress must ensure that everyone who needs it receives testing and treatment. This should not even be up for debate,” the ACLU noted on their website.

Tweet from one of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s social media pages. Photo: Twitter.

Immigration advocates are concerned that non-citizens won’t be properly treated during the pandemic. “There’s a new layer of fear in the immigrant community right now created by Covid-19,” Luz Gallegos, director of TODEC Legal Center, told the New York Times. “We believe that some members will be afraid to seek the care they need.”

While obtaining medical services for coronavirus testing and treatment might be intimidating for undocumented persons, resources are available. Local health centers providing coronavirus testing can be found online, alongside food pantry listings and additional services

Visit Project Pulso’s coronavirus updates page for coronavirus updates and resources.

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Author

Herbert Norat (he/him/his) is a contributing writer for Pulso. A Bronx-born writer of Puerto Rican and Nicaraguan descent, he owns a small business, works as a library researcher, and writes for Bronx Narratives and The New York Public Library. Herbert lives with his fiance and daughter in the Bronx.