City, state responses to pandemic must center and support marginalized communities

The entire Lake Tahoe community is suffering during this unprecedented pandemic.

Our immigrant community in Lake Tahoe is also adversely impacted. The normal fears associated with daily life are exacerbated by the isolationism linked with COVID-19.

Our underserved and low-income community is feeling extra pressure due to lack of hours available to work, creating negative cash flows for the immediate and future.

This health crisis and economic downturn will disproportionately impact the most vulnerable among us, our immigrant and low-income communities.

The Family Resource Center believes the city and state responses must center and support marginalized communities who are already feeling the devastating economic impact of this pandemic, especially workers who are earning low wages and are one paycheck away from crisis, including individuals with disabilities and other special needs.

Immigrants face particular challenges during this time because of a lack of access to public services due to immigration restrictions. Language access is another barrier that impacts our community’s ability to receive proper and timely information.

Many immigrant households have mixed legal status which is common in immigrant households. This will hinder immigrants from seeking assistance for fear of losing status or putting a family member at risk.

Those that work may not be eligible for programs like disability or paid family leave or any other benefits from the federal government. The federal stimulus package of $1,200 checks to individuals, will not include payments to non-resident aliens.

The City of South Lake Tahoe and the state of California has protected immigrants and has created a more welcoming environment for immigrants in recent years.

However, COVID-19 has exposed large gaps in our country’s health, economic and labor sectors.

It is imperative that the city and state continue to lead the way to ensure equal justice for immigrants, particularly at a time of crisis.

I hope that science and empathy, not politics, shape our response to this pandemic.

Actions:

• City of South Lake Tahoe & El Dorado County halt all residential evictions for 6 months.

• Ensure all residents of our community have access to any and all aid available.

• Ensure all messaging and emergency announcements are multilingual and culturally appropriate.

• Direct federal relief funding to fund rental assistance programs to include all state residents regardless of immigration status.

Bill Martinez is the executive director for The Family Resource Center