Even before the coronavirus pandemic began, the millions of mostly women of color, mostly immigrant and often undocumented domestic workers in the U.S. had little job security. But now the current health crisis has this workforce reeling.
By Marisa Peñaloza
The U.S. Senate unanimously voted on a third economic relief package last week. Altogether the federal relief fund is about $6 trillion. Families will get direct cash payouts, but this package will not benefit taxpaying undocumented people, such as the nannies who care for children, the home aides who care for the elderly and the mostly women who clean homes.
“It’s a real shame that the federal government is offering relief and that we are excluded,” says Ingrid Vaca, an undocumented home cleaning worker, in her native Spanish. “We become invisible even though we contribute so much to this country.”
Vaca came from Bolivia more than 20 years ago. She is a single mother of two and says she typically cleans between 12 and 13 houses a month. All of her employers have asked her to stay home, and only one continues to pay her fee, she says.
She has an Individual Tax Identification Number or ITIN, which allows undocumented people, like her, to pay taxes.
“We deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” Vaca says sobbing. “These last three weeks have been a nightmare.”
Ai-jen Poo is the executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. The Alliance is putting together an emergency relief fund, the Coronavirus Care Fund, to help those in need. The goal is to raise a total of $4 million.