NY City uses virus to call for taxpayer bailout of low-wage migrant workers

New York City is apparently looking for American taxpayers to bail out the city’s low-wage migrant workers.

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer believes taxpayers should “subsidize the city’s cheap labor economy,” arguing in a report that these “frontline workers” are extremely vulnerable amid the coronavirus pandemic.

(Image: YouTube/Scott Stringer)

“Frontline workers are putting their safety on the line to keep our city running — nurses, janitors, grocery clerks, child care staff, EMS workers, bus and truck drivers and so many more,” Stringer said in a statement. “And yet, these same essential workers whom we trust with our health, our nourishment, our loved ones, and our lives are too often ignored, underpaid, and overworked.”

They “very often lack healthcare, have to travel long distances to get to work, and struggle with childcare,” Stringer added.

But in the report was a kind of admission that “many in New York City are also undocumented, meaning they do all of the above while living in fear of deportation under the current federal administration.”

It was also noted that 19 percent of “frontline workers” are non-citizens, “often placing them in a precarious and frightening position in this age of arbitrary ICE crackdowns,” as he called for “basic social safety net” of services, noting that 34 percent of “all frontline workers” are at or below the poverty line.

Stringer called for a slew of government-funded programs to help these legal immigrants and illegal migrants, suggesting an “emergency relief” fund and free health care for workers who are part of essential industries and free child care for all “frontline workers.”

“The City and State should help provide free protective equipment and gear—including gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer—to all businesses,” the report stated. “The City and State should subsidize [coronavirus] hazard pay for small businesses in order to properly compensate workers and help recruit new employees in these high-risk and currently understaffed industries.”

There was also a call for the city to “enable non-citizen voting.”

“Over half of frontline workers are foreign-born and nearly one-quarter are non-citizens,” the report read. “The City of New York must bolster pathways to citizenship and enable non-citizen voting in all municipal elections … It is only fair that those who pay taxes and provide essential frontline services to all New Yorkers should have a direct say in municipal affairs.”

But Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies, noted the holes in Stringer’s argument about the impoverished “nurses, janitors, grocery clerks, childcare staff, bus and truck drivers … those in our social service, cleaning, delivery and warehouse, grocery, healthcare, and public transit industries.”

“Back in the day when these workers were Americans and unionized, they were making more than a living wage,” she said.

“People raised their families on those jobs — they were good jobs … They were jobs that people were glad to have, where they could support their families [and homes] on them. They had [medical] benefits,” she added, noting the environment before legal and illegal migrants were encouraged by the elites to pour into the American workplace.

“If that was still the system …. they would have good healthcare plans, and they would have sick leave,” she said.

New York City’s leaders “have institutionalized the use of illegal workers, and made them a fixture of the workforce in New York,” Vaughan added.

“When this is exposed in an economic crisis, they want taxpayers and the government to bail them out with amnesty policies and cash assistance to these workers that they encouraged to settle there, while paying them substandard wages,” she said, warning “the bill is coming due for the cheap labor policies that they encouraged [the city’s] employers to adopt.

Frieda Powers

Senior Staff Writer
[email protected]

Originally from New York, Powers graduated from New York University and eventually made her way to sunny South Florida where she has been writing for the BizPacReview team since 2015.
Frieda Powers

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