By Hellen Zaboulani
An Easter protest was organized on Sunday outside of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Midtown Manhattan office. As reported by the NY Post, dozens gathered to demand that the governor approve a $3.5 billion fund for “excluded workers” who have not yet benefited from aid doled out during the pandemic.
The procession, which bore flowers to celebrate the holiday of Easter, was organized by immigrant-advocacy group Make the Road New York. The protesters called on Gov. Cuomo to allocate aid for workers who went to work all throughout the coronavirus pandemic but were ineligible to claim economic aid — including undocumented immigrants.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, Andrew Cuomo made some decisions,” New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams told the crowd at the event. “He said that black and brown people, primarily, had to go to work. They were essential, they’re important. They had to go to work. They had no choice. This is New York State. There should not be anything called an ‘excluded worker,’ ” continued Williams. “No one should be excluded in New York State.”
The topic has caused a rift within Democrats in the state legislature, over whether or not billions in funds should be earmarked for undocumented immigrants. Needless to say, Republicans have balked at the notion of using much needed taxpayer coffers for illegal residents. The fund seeks to provide 187,000 immigrants and 87,000 recently incarcerated people with an average of $12,600 each. The talks are already late for the past due state budget talks, which were due on April 1st.
As per a source for the Post, Cuomo also opposes the measure. At the protest on Sunday, Williams accused Cuomo of leaning on his “privilege” throughout the pandemic. “We all understand that this governor probably doesn’t understand sacrifice,” he said to a cheering crowd. “Because he uses privilege to get … his friends a test when other people couldn’t get it. He used his privilege to have state workers help him write a book on a pandemic on leadership while he was lying about people dying in nursing homes.” Williams added that some of the workers who attended the rally were conducting a weeks-long hunger strike to raise awareness for their predicament. Cuomo “is telling the folks who are literally on a hunger strike they don’t deserve assistance, on Easter Sunday,” he said.
Spokespersons for Cuomo have said that staffers only helped out with his book on a volunteer basis. Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond on Sunday to a request for comment on the Excluded Workers Fund.