Latinx community leaders participated in a webinar this past Wednesday, August 12, to discuss ongoing strategies to address the disparities and inequities among immigrant families.
“Thankfully, I think in the time of crisis, everyone jumped in and really tried to mobilize and get our community the help it needed at this time,” Karen Menéndez Coller, Executive Director of Centro Hispano said.
The webinar, “The state of the Latinx community and current efforts: A closer look at the disparities and inequities in the era of COVID-19,” is the first of a series coordinated by the Latino Professionals Association (LPA). LPA President Norma Gallegos Valles moderated the discussion.
“One thing we decided as a group was to make our undocumented community a priority,” said Baltazar de Anda-Santana, The Executive Director of the Latino Academy of Workforce Development.
In March, The Latino Consortium for Action (LCA) announced the creation of the Emergency Relief Fund for those most affected by COVID-19 in the Latinx community: undocumented Latinx workers and small immigrant-owned businesses. The consortium has raised over $1 million for an emergency relief fund so far.
“As of today, 16 percent of the community that is positive (for coronavirus) is Latinx,” Latino Health Council Co-Chair Shiva Bidar-Sielaff said.
The fund’s page also states 70 percent of Latinxs are renters, 68 percent live in multi-unit dwellings, 34 percent fall below the poverty line, and almost two out of every five work in the service industry in Dane County. In addition, nearly 50 percent of Latinx people lack healthcare insurance coverage in the state.
Bidar-Sielaff said a lot of advocacy needs to happen surrounding immigrant communities in addition to working with employers on safety protocol. Verónica Figueroa, Executive Director of Unidos, also called for lawmakers to share long-term strategies and a plan to allocate funding for social services.
“I think it’s important to mobilize and do the work but I also think we can’t let these systems off the hook,” Menéndez Coller said.
Dane County’s Immigration Affairs Specialist Fabiola Hamdan said before, community members were working within their respective areas, but the crisis has prompted individuals to come together. She also said this crisis is hard to put into words as undocumented people who have lost their jobs cannot access social services like other residents.
“Our office helps families with case management if their family member has been detained by ICE, working with social workers. The pandemic has made doing this work harder,” Hamdan said.
Figueroa said this pandemic is a perfect opportunity to think about this as a movement, learn from each other, teach others how to lead, and lead with some compassion. She also encouraged residents to contact their local officials and ask them to do something about these issues.
“The Latinx community is under attack because of systematic racism,” Figueroa said.