An immigrant advocacy group says FEMA has not done enough to reach out out to immigrants affected by Hurricane Sandy. Because of that, they say many immigrants who desperately need help aren’t getting it. NY1’s Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
Maria Raquel Sanchez [member of Make the Road New York] was renting a house when Hurricane Sandy hit. Like many others in Midland Beach, she lost her home and everything she owned, as well as her job.
Sanchez is an undocumented immigrant, but said she believes she should still be eligible for federal help.
“We work,” she said through an interpreter. “We have families and children in the schools. We have suffered the same as everyone else has suffered.”
Make the Road New York surveyed 416 immigrants living on Staten Island and Long Island. The organization said 60 percent of immigrants surveyed on Staten Island have either lost a job or gone without work for several days.
The report found a spike in rental prices, making it difficult for immigrants to relocate from their storm-damaged homes.
“I think the most surprising and worrying result of the report has been that 78 percent of immigrants that we interviewed had not yet tried to apply for FEMA or other types of assistance,” said Sarah Cullinane of Make the Road New York.
When asked why, the number one reason given was that they don’t know how to. That’s got the report’s authors pushing FEMA for better outreach for immigrants.
“A task force to be put in place so that we can systematically examine and respond to the specific needs of the many different immigrant communities affected by Sandy,” said Terry Troia of Project Hospitality.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it has been working on outreach, pointing to the 700 community relations teams that continue to work in disaster-ravaged areas, and offer information in 20 languages.
Make the Road also acknowledged that three out of four of immigrants who said they applied for help didn’t get it, because they were ineligible because of immigration status or other reasons. The agency said those in need should apply for help despite their status because a family member might be eligible.
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