Immigrants in California face discrimination, financial burden amid COVID-19 crisis

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The novel coronavirus outbreak is affecting everyone in so many different ways, and some immigrants are facing additional burdens, including discrimination and being left out of financial relief from the government.

Immigrants across the state are sharing how COVID-19 is impacting them.

"Asian Americans started complaining that they were victims of being attacked and discriminated against," said Stewart Kwoh, the founder of Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

And there are also business owners.

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"Some people feel that somehow Asian restaurants could be carriers of the virus, which is not true by the way, but their businesses have gone by down by over 50%," Kwoh said.

Kwoh points out there's also a significant language barrier.

"There's going to have to be a lot of partnerships between government and community organizations to provide that kind of language access," Kwoh said.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) surveyed immigrants across the state and among their findings, they say most have no savings to make it through the crisis.

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Undocumented immigrants are not included in the federal stimulus package, even if they pay taxes.

"We emphasize the priority of making sure that any policy that moves has and includes the most vulnerable, some of the most vulnerable are our undocumented brothers and sisters," said Diana Colin, political director with CHIRLA.

Then, there's children of immigrants.

"I see a lot of anxiety, I see a lot of depression, a lot of writing about how they just like couldn't get out of bed," Daniela Gerson said.

Gerson is a journalism professor at Cal State University, Northridge and sends out a weekly newsletter on immigration.

"Almost all my students are children of immigrants. And what I am seeing is their parents are losing their jobs. Many don't have Wi-Fi at homes," Gerson said. She added that she is finding many of the students are the first in their families to go to college.

Kwoh wants people to remember that many immigrants are also on the front lines.

"Our older son is a doctor," Kwoh said. "We're proud of him because he's on the front lines of combating this virus. We need to stand together."
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