Covide-19: Illegal immigrants fear going to hospital in US


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Covide-19: Illegal immigrants fear going to hospital in US

Covide-19: Illegal immigrants fear going to hospital in US

They are afraid of being detained and deported, of receiving an exorbitant bill that they will not be able to pay, or of becoming a “public burden” for the state – something that would prevent them from legalizing their immigration status in the future.

For these reasons, many immigrants in illegal condition in the United States refuse to go to the hospital until the last moment.

Victoria’s ex-husband, a Brooklyn nanny who lost her job two months ago, contracted covid-19 and passed away a week ago. I was 69.

He had kidney problems and diabetes. She lived in New Jersey with 12 other immigrants, and all became contaminated, she told AFP, who asked not to have her name all publicized.

“It was very bad, but he didn’t want to go to the hospital. After two weeks, when i couldn’t walk or breathe anymore, my daughter took a chance, put him in the car and took him away. He died three weeks later,” he said.

“Public weight”

In New York, the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, where nearly 20,000 people died, Latinos and blacks are the biggest victims of the virus, with mortality rates nearly twice as high as those of the white population.

For the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, mostly Hispanics, the situation is especially harsh. Many are essential workers and are more exposed to contagion. Only 16% can work from home, according to the Labor Department.

They also have a high percentage of unattended chronic diseases, such as asthma, diabetes and hypertension. Sometimes they live confined in small apartments, which also explains their higher mortality.

They do not have health insurance, many do not speak English and have a low educational level, which makes it difficult to search for information.

Nor do they receive unemployment insurance, or the $1,200 bonus approved by the federal government to ease the crisis. Still, they pay their taxes in this country where they’ve lived for decades. Some states try to help them.

California will offer 150,000 immigrants in this condition a one-time payment of $500, and New York, thanks to a donation from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, will pay $400 to another $20,000. That’s nowhere near the more than 2.5 million people in this group in both states.

“My community doesn’t have the luxury of fleeing to a second home in the Hamptons resort. You have to stay and work,” Queens City Councilman Francisco Moya, who represents the neighborhoods hardest hit by the pandemic in New York: Jackson Heights, Corona and Elmhurst, told AFP.

“They are afraid to go to the hospital for the anti-immigration policies implemented by the government Trump from day one,” he explained.

While immigration police (ICE) say they are not making hospital detentions, with exceptions, “there is definitely this fear,” Jae Young Kim of the Legal Services association, which offers free legal advice to immigrants in the Bronx, told AFP.

Kim explained that customers are specifically concerned about the new “public weight” policy of Trump, which denies them work visas if they have access to public resources such as emergency medical care through Medicaid insurance. For coronavirus, however, the standard provides for an exception, but many immigrants do not know this, or simply do not trust the government.

“I’m panicking”

In California’s Coachella Valley, Rosa, 26, lost her job in agriculture. If you get the virus, you guarantee that the last place you’re going will be the hospital.

“It’s hard when you can’t afford it,” he says. She also asked not to have her name released. When your father was stabbed a few years ago and needed an operation, he received a $40,000 bill. She still pays the installments.

Carlos Buri, a 46-year-old Ecuadorian who lives in Corona, Queens, was taken to a hospital. His wife, Blanca Vélez, told AFP that an ambulance picked him up after several days of high fever and diarrhea. Carlos couldn’t walk either and barely breathed.

He tested positive for the coronavirus test, was told to be quarantined, as well as a $1,330 bill for the ambulance. The couple can’t afford it because they’re both unemployed.

“Now we’re afraid to go back to the hospital. They’re going to tell us to get an emergency Medicaid and then we’re going to become a ‘public weight,’” Blanca said in a line in Corona to receive a free bag of vegetables.

In Brooklyn, street vendor Guadalupe Galicia suspects she had the virus, but was also afraid to go to the hospital.

“I’m panicking about getting infected. I don’t know if I had the virus, or if it was a simple flu,” said the 40-year-old Mexican who lives with four of her children.

He hasn’t been out on the streets for two months to sell his tamales and has already warned the landlord that he won’t be able to pay the rent.


Covide-19: Illegal immigrants fear going to hospital in US

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