Coronavirus impact: Undocumented workers in San Francisco are struggling during COVID-19 crisis

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Saturday, March 21, 2020
SF Undocumented workers are struggling during COVID-19 crisis
Undocumented immigrants in San Francisco are struggling during the coronavirus shelter-in-place that was ordered on March 16.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As many employers are feeling the financial pressure of COVID-19 they are laying off employees. Some of those workers are undocumented. Only those with work permits qualify for unemployment, the rest are at the mercy of nonprofits and waiting on the city's help.

Right in the heart of San Francisco's Mission District, "la Victoria Bakery" is a go-to spot for many in the Latino community who want to feel closer to home.

Jacqueline Pitalla Hernandez is hearing firsthand the stories of her customers. Some are undocumented.

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"Another one (employee) had to stop working on her other job because of the coronavirus. She has been working with us but only for a couple hours and that's affecting her economically," said Hernandez.

Maciel Jacquez with Centro Legal de La Raza says they're getting calls every day from many in the undocumented community asking for help.

"A lot of them are unemployed at the moment because what's going on with the coronavirus. A lot of housing insecurity. If they're going to have a home next month," said Jacquez.

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We met several day laborers who are concerned about the virus but say they need the money to survive.

Jose Luis showed us his wallet and said he hasn't worked in 5 days.

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"Just a dollar... my pay for the phone in 5 days canceled," said Jose Luis.

According to San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney, the board of supervisors is discussing ways to help the undocumented community.

Haney says this could potentially come in forms of grants for those who are unemployed.

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