Diana is learning from Latinos Unidos en Fond du Lac how COVID-19 and quarantine complicate the lives of Latino immigrants in unique ways. Many are working in essential occupations like stone quarries, food manufacturing, and dairy farming. By continuing to work, they increase their likelihood of contracting the disease and spreading it to their families. Yet, they are grateful to still be able to work. Many send significant amounts of their pay to their families in Mexico, have little savings, and no public safety net to fall back on.
It is estimated that about 71,000 people in WI are undocumented. Of these, around 74% are likely Mexican. This means they live and work here without U.S. government permission to do so. These employees and business owners usually do pay income and property taxes yet receive no public benefits like unemployment, social security, workers compensation, or Medicaid. Undocumented workers are currently not eligible to receive the federal government’s COVID aid, even when their spouse or children are citizens. Undocumented business owners are not eligible to apply for federal or state business loans or grants.
Latinos Unidos en Fond du Lac has started a new Facebook page to centralize information in Spanish about COVID. This is also a place where people can request assistance or donations, or offer them, confidentially. Latinos Unidos leaders recently sent questions to Fond du Lac County’s Health Officer, and a Spanish-speaking Health Department employee sat down with them on Zoom to respond. This recording will be published on Facebook so the most locally accurate information is available more easily. The group is meeting weekly during quarantine to check in with each other and share information.