Saturday, November 27

Four undocumented women are awarded for creating a “fund for the excluded”



Four undocumented Latinas were honored this Wednesday by the Roosevelt Institute for their role in creating the Excluded Workers Fund in New York, the largest in the country, at 2.1 million dollars, designed to help undocumented immigrants affected by the pandemic.

The Mexicans Sonia Pérez, María Isabel Sierra and Sixta León Barrita, plus the Colombian Rubiela Correa, received the “Freedom from Fear” award in a virtual ceremony due to restrictions due to the pandemic, in this edition in which for the first time the award is awarded to an undocumented person.

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This year, also for the first time, the awards focus on a theme of racial justice. According to the institute, All of them made an “extraordinary sacrifice” by participating in a hunger strike this year that they believe was key for the New York State Legislature to create this fund in April for those who had been excluded from the federal economic stimulus.

Several immigrants, mostly women, went on a hunger strike that they continued for 23 days, until the legislature voted in favor of the fund, albeit with a lower amount than the 3.5 billion dollars that they were demanding.

Sonia, a street vendor, served champurrado (a drink made in Mexico with corn atole and chocolate) to the strikers, led community meetings, and mobilized the City vendors to fight for the fund.

“I am proud to have fought for the Fund, which has made it possible for me and for many people in the state to finally dream of a better future after a year of fear and immense pain, as well as to get us out of the shadows,” said Sonia, single mother of four and grandmother.

The Institute Roosevelt, which promotes the legacy and values ​​of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945), awards the prizes Four Freedom (Four Freedoms), based on the principles that he pointed out as essential for democracy in a message in 1941 before Congress: freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom to live without misery and freedom to live without fear.

The fund created by the four women “helped correct a historical injustice,” said Sixta León, a domestic worker who was on strike for 21 days, during which she collected recycled bottles to help pay for her household expenses.

While Correa, who was on strike for 23 days, said: “It was an honor to fight not only for my dignity, but also for that of others.”

For María Isabel Sierra, whose request for assistance has not yet been approved, the fund “is more than money”: “it is a recognition of our dignity and the contributions we have made to this country,” she said.

Workers are fighting for an additional $ 3 billion for the program in next year’s state budget as many workers have been left out of aid as the money runs out.

The institute presented the award for freedom of expression on October 13 to New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and the award for freedom of worship to federal senator for Georgia Raphael Warnock.

On October 27, he will posthumously present the medal of freedom to the civil rights activist Fred T. Kaorematsu (1919-2005), who will receive his daughter Karen Korematsu.

These awards, first presented in 1982 on the centennial of Roosevelt’s birth, have been bestowed on such personalities as Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King’s widow, and the country’s Supreme Court Justice. , Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020), among others.

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