Donald Trump with his infamous narcissism is the President of the United States, talking so badly of immigrants who have entered illegally the “Promised Land”. Trump for a long time has been manufacturing the enemy: the Twitter war, from his Twitter account, against the illegal immigrants is nothing less than hubris. Twitting pearls and diamonds? Not really. Some of the media in America help him. Fox News especially, or better saying, the media that are close to his sarcastic, understanding of society, are engaged in a shameful, and unstoppable attack against the immigrants. But, the country needs the hands. No? Also, has Trump ever read a page by activists such as Noam Chomsky, Thomas Piketty, or Naomi Klein? The answer is no. The Americans voted in 2016, like, there was no alternative to Trump and his team. Most of the Greek-Americans voted for him to become the 45th President. They now realize the biting truth.
Actually in times of crisis, the less-skilled people, like: cleaners, truck drivers, home carers for the elderly, cooks, delivery boys, fruitpickers, and many others in similar jobs, are the most needed. Workers who are on the frontlines in grocery stores, meatpacking plants and warehouses. Some of the workers went to the streets after the assassination of George Floyd (under a policeman’s knee in Minneapolis). Thus, there are in the country, many Asian and black undocumented workers, many Hispanic and non-Hispanic, and Greeks, of course, who are also undocumented. At the same time, today in New York, and in America, surviving this financial tsunami –also the end of globalisation which helps the rich getting richer– will be a big challenge for all of us, but especially, for the undocumented population of America. The American society now, –and History later on, as the scientific study of the past– is shaped by those who fight, and by those who survive.
Why have I written this? Because I want it heard loudly and clearly that now, with COVID-19 pandemic, things have dramatically changed. The restaurants faced a near-complete elimination of revenue. We are likely already in a recession in New York, and in America. Next to the feeling of economic inequality, and racial injustice, there is a gigantic wave of Depression-like economic collapse. People lose their jobs, unemployment (many of my close friends in New York are also among them). People face absence of any income for weeks, or even months. People are losing income while their bills pile up. Soon they will be in the red. And, if the government provides, direct emergency cash payment to every person in America – as it did once by giving $1,200 – there won’t be any check coming to the undocumented immigrants. They used to get paid under the table from their job. Thus today, they don’t qualify for unemployment. Not only a few, but all the undocumented population of America (including the plethora of undocumented Greeks that live here).
If we look at the numbers: 11 millions of people in America are Illegal, undocumented and unauthorized immigrants. (There are thousands of undocumented Greeks too.) Many of them, have already lost their job and suffer; and they will suffer the most in the following weeks and months. The 11 million immigrants are being hit especially hard, and now, the controllable fears of deportation, have been replaced with the uncontrollable fears of survival. They can’t afford to eat. They can’t afford to pay the rent. Can you believe it? At the same time, the immigrant communities still face the same threat from the lethal virus as everyone else. Undocumented immigrants are also afraid to seek medical care for coronavirus. They don’t feel safe at all, even though ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) said that, they won’t be deported. No one trusts Donald Trump and his administration. No one trusts the Trump “circus” anymore.
The making of America is a “work in progress” and many of today’s illegal immigrants will be tomorrow’s finest law-abiding citizens. Many of today’s illegal Greeks will be tomorrow’s best citizens. There is always hope, but the time is running out. At the same time, America is a vast land: there is enough space in it –for the crucial social distancing in order to contain the pandemic– for all the brave and all the good. If coronavirus self-isolation needs to go on and on for long, and plethora of restaurants, bars, cafes (at the moment, grab and go is available, and only tables outside are allowed), and other small businesses remain close, –or underperforming– many people will suffer in silence and they will experience hell on earth. Hell like nothing before, especially for all the undocumented population, including the undocumented Hellenes. For them, there is already, a humanitarian crisis, and a social disaster under the spectre of coronavirus that is unfolding out of sight. Next to an agree and polarized society, there is a once-in-a-century pandemic, and next to all of them, the undocumented Greek immigrants. They must fight for survival against all odds, as the Greeks always did in their glorious history.
♦ Dimitris Eleas is a New York City-based writer, and political activist. His writings in Greek language have appeared in books, journals and newspapers.
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