The U.S. recorded over 85,000 new coronavirus cases, bringing the new U.S. total to 8.7 million and 43 million worldwide. Latinos are still dying in disproportionately high numbers in the U.S., relative to the general population, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This week’s “5 Essential Updates” for our gente include how the separation of families is impacted by COVID-19, the importance of local food pantries for undocumented communities, and Our Lady of Guadalupe bringing farmworkers hope.
1. Pandemic at the border — At least 600 asylum seekers are currently living in an encampment on the other side of the border, across from Brownsville, Texas, awaiting to obtain refugee status. Their asylum process can take years, and many are living amongst rotten debris. Their access to supplies that were regularly distributed before the pandemic has also stopped.
2. Children without parents — In 2017, a government pilot program began separating migrant parents from their children at the U.S. border and more than 1,000 families were separated. Now, 545 of these parents cannot be found, according to lawyers. With containment policies and curfews, the coronavirus has made it more difficult to find these parents. Dora Melera, a human rights defender working in Honduras to look for clues on parents’ whereabouts, explains that they had to completely stop their search for the parents because of the pandemic.
3. Latino food workers most impacted — The Latinos who handle and prepare our meat and vegetables were affected by COVID-19 more than any other ethnic group in these industries. While Latinos account for only 37% of the agricultural and meat packaging workers in the states reported, 73% of those who tested positive for the virus were Latino, according to an October CDC study.
4. Local groups keep us strong — Because of the public charge law, some immigrants fear signing up for social services that they need, like food assistance, to avoid being denied citizenship. Therefore, getting access to healthy food can be difficult for immigrants. Organizations are asking for support from those who can afford to donate time or money to local food pantry initiatives, which helps those who are undocumented or in mixed-status families.
5. Our Lady of Guadalupe visits farmworkers — “I never thought that the Virgin of Guadalupe would ever come visit me at work,” said Yolanda Camacho. She’s one of many farmworkers who have not been able to attend church because of coronavirus restrictions. But recently, Father Juan Ochoa from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles brought the sacred images to the farmworkers in a symbol of appreciation for all they have been doing during the pandemic.