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Activist and union leader Dolores Huerta. Frame from the film "Dolores".
Activist and union legend Dolores Huerta. Screenshot: Dolores

Dolores Huerta joins undocumented hunger strikers in New Jersey

Civil rights leader Dolores Huerta speaks out in support of the group of undocumented immigrants who have been on hunger strike for three weeks.

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This Tuesday, migrant farmworker activist and labor leader Dolores Huerta offered her support to a group of immigrants who are on hunger strike in New Jersey in protest for having been excluded from the federal economic incentive. This federal aid was granted to overcome the pandemic crisis. Faced with exclusion, they began a hunger strike to demand approval of a COVID-19 fund of $2,000 in direct payments and $600 a week for those ineligible for unemployment benefits.

Huerta called on Gov. Phil Murphy and lawmakers to help the state's half-million undocumented immigrants and their families. "Governor Murphy please support these workers — agricultural, horticultural — who put food on the table for all New Jersey residents. I am so proud to stand with them," said the co-founder of the United Farm Workers union with Cesar Chavez.

Huerta called on the Democratic governor, who is up for re-election this year, to provide a "meaningful recovery for all,'' and pointed to a $125 million fund created by California to help undocumented immigrants who are ineligible for other forms of pandemic assistance. Immigrants contribute $600 million in state and local taxes and have contributed $1 billion to the state unemployment fund over the past decade, but many have been excluded from almost all aid, according to a Make The Road. report.

Notably, many of these workers have lost their businesses, jobs or had their incomes reduced due to the pandemic, and many families have even lost breadwinners to the disease.

For his part, Murphy is considering allocating $40 million to help the excluded immigrants. However, workers say this amount does not meet their needs, and reminded that New Jersey will  receive $6 billion  in federal stimulus funds. Since the governor is free to determine what these funds will be used for, the workers continue to press on.

New York's experience, where excluded workers also went on strike demanding help from the state government, finally included in its new budget a $2.1 billion fund that will also benefit undocumented workers affected by the pandemic crisis.

 

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