The pandemic has left many undocumented immigrants jobless and in financial difficulty. The state’s unemployment rate tripled, and immigrants without papers were hit particularly hard.
These immigrants in Miami-Dade were not eligible for the government’s $1,200 stimulus check that was part of April’s CARES Act or the Emergency and Rental Utility Program implemented on May 4. However, many have gotten creative and started selling items through social media to help their economic situation.
Wendy Flores, an undocumented immigrant from Honduras, started an online organic hair-care business when the outbreak began.
“I am not that worried about the sickness,” she said. “All I’m thinking is how I need to pay bills and put food on the table.”
Before the pandemic, Flores worked as a waitress in a restaurant. But when that job ended, she ramped up her sideline.
“I am honestly thankful for social media; it has helped me financially during these times,” Flores said. “Being able to make extra money online by selling products has been a big advantage.”
Flores’s husband, Carlos Ventura, hasn’t seen a steady income in quite a while. Though he has managed to keep working, his hours have decreased.
“You know the government’s aid has been very useful for people,” Ventura said. “It’s very disappointing to not qualify, because there’s just a lot of pressure to figure out where money has to come from.”
Patricia Villagran, a mother of two, is also unable to receive financial aid from the government. She has visited distribution centers for free food, but many sites require her to be inside a vehicle — and she doesn’t own one.
“It has been very hard not working, but what’s even harder is just sitting here with no support or financial assistance, when a lot of other people are receiving aid,” she said, fidgeting as she spoke.
Villagran says her family has been trying to survive on a monthly budget of $2,000. That’s not sufficient to pay all the bills and still be able to save money.
“I’ve never been through something like this before,” she said. “I pray this is over soon for everyone’s sake.”