Caregivers are among the most hardworking and compassionate essential workers and frontliners, but many undocumented caregivers are left out of government aids as COVID19 ravages nursing and assisted living facilities and care homes.
Particularly in Santa Clara County, the Filipino immigrant community is the main work force in the care home industry, caring for the elderly, sick and disabled. They are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID19 because of exposure and the lack of PPEs. Some of the caregivers are elderly themselves and have underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus. Yet, despite the threat to their own health and safety, staying home is a luxury that Filipino caregivers can ill afford. Not working means not being able to pay bills or pay rent. It also means not being able to send money to their struggling families back in the Philippines. While they are encouraged to apply for Unemployment Insurance (if they have immigration status and work authorization) or for State Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave (even if undocumented), many caregivers do not avail of these benefits because they lack job protection and fear they will lose their jobs if they do not go to work even for just one day. Moreover, while Californians are grateful for the $500 per person subsidy from the Governor for undocumented immigrants, this stop gap amount is simply not enough of a wage replacement for a quarantined or sick caregiver.
As PAWIS (Pilipino Association of Workers and Immigrants) joins other workers’ organizations and alliances to call for “safety nets for all” that will benefit all workers and immigrants, we also recognize the need to provide some immediate economic relief to distressed caregivers, particularly the undocumented, who have to self-quarantine, are being ordered to quarantine or are diagnosed with COVID19, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic. To help ease their burden, PAWIS is launching this GoFundMe fundraising drive.
In the time of COVID19, let us help take care of our caregivers when they are now the ones in need of caring so they can continue to take care of our sick, elderly and disabled.
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Felwina Opiso-Mondina
San Jose, CA

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