Morristown immigration group leads demands for pandemic relief for undocumented workers

Brian Lozano, right, of Wind of the Spirit, doing community outreach about the coronavirus in March 2020. Photo courtesy of Wind of the Spirit.


Immigration and labor advocacy groups on Monday exhorted the state to create a disaster fund for undocumented workers and their families who have been shut out from pandemic relief programs.

“We can’t flatten the curve in New Jersey unless everyone here has access to aid,” said Brian Lozano, of the Morristown-based Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center, via a teleconference.

A coalition of organizations announced a week-long campaign, #Recovery4All, to underscore the dire situation of laid off undocumented workers, who are ineligible for unemployment insurance, federal stimulus checks and other government relief during the coronavirus crisis.

“Last month we only had half of our rent. Luckily our landlord is good. But this month is going to be difficult,” said Fernando Saenz, from Make the Road New Jersey.

He and his wife have lost their warehouse jobs. Their 22-year-old daughter lost her job at a mall. Their son is taking his college courses at home. Saenz said he’s paid taxes for 20 years, and his wife, for 18.

“And we have no right to anything. To this moment, we have received no help,” he said.


Undocumented workers across New Jersey pay $1.1 billion in federal taxes and $600 million in state taxes, Lozano said. The state is home to half a million undocumented immigrants, who have 128,000 children who are U.S. citizens, he said.

Some 125,000 of these workers have lost their jobs during the pandemic, and 225,000 won’t receive any stimulus money because of their immigration status, or the status of a family member, Lozano said.

Through last week, the IRS had issued nearly $158 billion in stimulus payments to 88 million Americans.  Adults who qualify get up to $1,200, with an additional $500 per child under age 17.  The payments are part of a $2.2 trillion pandemic relief package enacted last month by Congress.

Participants in #Recovery4All are demanding $600 per week for each displaced worker, and stimulus checks to undocumented people with ITINs (Individual Tax Identification Numbers) who have been paying taxes.

“What about us, Gov. Murphy?” asked Jairo Palomo, a Honduran immigrant representing ULA, a nonprofit advocacy organization.

Palomo said he lost an aunt to COVID-19, and on April 4 he lost his job.  He said he is struggling to pay rent, buy food and support his family back in Honduras.

Gov. Phil Murphy, April 27, 2020. Pool photo by Kevin Saunders/NJ Globe

“I’ve had to deal with all of these emotions at the same time. There is a difference going through this pandemic for someone who is wealthy and has means, and being part of the working class, and undocumented immigrants,”  said Palomo, asserting undocumented workers have contributed to New Jersey’s prosperity.

Rent payments should be cancelled during the pandemic, he said, and essential workers should be given personal protective equipment. He wants detention centers to release immigrants and shut down. Palomo blamed a “xenophobic, anti-immigrant president” for excluding undocumented workers from federal relief.

At a press briefing last week, Gov. Phil Murphy said he was open to the idea of $600 payments to undocumented residents, but he made no commitments.

Morristown Green reached out to Murphy and state Sen. Anthony M. Bucco (R-25th Dist.) on Monday.  This story will be updated to include any responses from them.

California has made funding available to help undocumented workers there. Lozano said Wind of the Spirit is monitoring that situation, for ideas about how to distribute relief aid if New Jersey approves it. Some immigrants may be wary of seeking government help for fear of deportation, he acknowledged.


A series of #Recovery4All online events are planned this week, culminating Friday, May Day, with a “day of action” to include signs in windows, and banging of pots and pans from balconies and courtyards, to demonstrate support.

The #Recovery4All groups include the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Friends Service Committee, the Central Jersey Democratic Socialists of America, the Hudson County Central Labor Council and El Pueblo Unido of Atlantic City IFPTE Local 194.

Also participating: The Latina organization LUPE, New Labor, the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, the Ironbound Community Corp., Faith in New Jersey, Make the Road New Jersey, SEIU 32Bj, and the South Jersey Democratic Socialists of America.

Their demands include automatic extensions of the federal DACA and TPS programs, with health care. Both programs issue work permits to undocumented immigrants.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) enables children illegally brought into the U.S. to remain, if they meet certain conditions. A U.S. Supreme Court decision on DACA’s fate is imminent.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) allows persons from countries ravaged by wars or natural disasters to stay in the U.S. for limited periods. TPS status for Hondurans and Salvadorans was set to expire, but they received a reprieve from the courts.

A woman named Gladys, who is a member of Faith in New Jersey, said she is concerned about the future of her daughter, a “Dreamer” (DACA child) who recently graduated from college and landed a good job.

Gladys said her husband is a U.S. citizen. But because she is an undocumented worker who has been paying taxes since 1998 using an ITIN number, her family cannot receive federal stimulus help.

“The logic behind it, as I see it, is: Don’t become friends or family with undocumented immigrants, or this will happen to you,” she said.

After Roberto Mejia and his wife lost their jobs in February, they and their two children, who are U.S. citizens, all came down with COVID-19. Then he learned they were ineligible for stimulus money.

“I take this as punishment because we are Latinos and immigrants,” said Mejia, a machine operator and truck driver. “But we contribute to this country. For 29 years I’ve been paying my taxes,” he said.

Everyone, he added, has access to health care.

“We do not.”

Mejia’s daughter Valerie, 13, said she is proud of her Hispanic heritage, and upset with the United States.

“I feel very discriminated against by my country,” she said.


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  1. To Charles,

    Please stop the lies, and BS with the race card.
    And that they all are Law abiding illegals…

    Google a “”FEW”” of the 1000’s of headlines per year, of your criminal friends

    “”” Child molester accepts “deal” with District Attorney’s Office and gets probation “”””

    “”” Illegal Immigrants Drive Child Sex Crime Charges in North Carolina “”””

    “””” In One Month, 94 Illegals In North Carolina Committed Sexual Assaults On Children Over 500 Times “””

    “” 12 individuals arrested in federal drug raid in Grand Island “””

    “”” Undocumented immigrant among suspects in child sex sting “”””

    “””” Border Patrol captures two convicted sex offenders in Calexico “”””

    “”” ICE arrests woman charged with child sex crimes in Virginia “”””

    “”” Sex offender convicted in Collier County arrested by U.S. Border Patrol “”””

    “””” Undocumented Guatemalan man awaits trial on rape, incest charges “””

    “” Child molester who was given probation is now accused of molesting more young girls “””””

    That is a very SMALL sample of headlines

    The country since its inception, has been multiethnic, and I am sure everyone here has married, has a friends, or relatives, that are from other ethnic backgrounds. And as all U.S. citizens grew up with and were friends with, and even married, multi ethnic backgrounds.

    So to try to call this “” racist” is just a flat out lie,
    U.S. citizens are tired of U.S. Laws, NOT being respected, or honored, and that many of the illegal immigrants ( from over 52 countries last year alone – Border Agency Stats) ..

    We now have MS-13 gangs in most every state. ( Including my own town here in NJ)

    This IS about LAWS, and Economics, and the costs to U.S. tax payers…along with stopping the drugs, gangs, human smuggling, border tunnels, drug boats, etc

    If you call this being racist,
    your clearly don’t have a clue in life,
    especially economically,
    and also don’t believe in laws, or the safety of U.S. citizens.

    Also, clearly you think tax payers should be covering the 22,000,000 illegals in the U.S.

    Many of which are receiving lots of FREE on the tax payers dime.

    And please dont pull the line, we need 22,000,000 illegal immigrants to pick our tomatoes.
    Because the Temporary / Seasonal Farm Worker Visa, H2 B

  2. This site really brings out the local racists. Shame more of them won’t put a name to it.

    WOTS and all these groups are truly wonderful people trying to make the world a better place, unlike all these, bitter, bitter haters on here. These people advocate for government policies that starve the poor and reward the lazy rich and then scream about the “poor white working class” who can’t make it in the same austerity these people advocate for. We are the richest nation in the world and we can lift everyone up if we truly want to. But lots of people don’t want to see anyone a shade darker than eggshell white get even a fraction more than someone else… wonder why?

    And to the statistical genius that pointed out 27% of those infected are hispanic, let’s remember that 52% are white, so… But really, of course the people that continue to do real work in the community are going to get infected so your complaining butt can stay home and be safe…

  3. This is to JT,

    Just so you are aware.
    People that make Ove $100,000, DONT receive a stimulus check.

    Also, there are FAR MORE, illegal immigrants in NJ, than those that make over $100,000 a year.
    And that is a fact.

  4. Let’s also give back the taxes paid by those who make over $100k that don’t qualify for aid either. They are a significantly larger population in NJ than the illegal aliens. That would be fair too as many of them have also lost their jobs. It seems that they should not have had the taxes to pay for those benefits withheld from their paychecks.

  5. I see a few people here saying “””Give back the taxes to them”””

    Let me raise some points…
    First off, Most Dont pay taxes..
    My illegal neighbors in the apartments next door to me, DONT pay taxes.
    The one illegal that has been hear for 20 years ( as of this year) has had a judgement against him to pay $6000 ( i know because he asked and showed me the paperwork because he did not understand it)…..Either he was to pay it, or loose his license ( accident, from Drunk Driving) …he tells me, he will not pay it, I told him they will take it out of his pay check. He said he will quit his job…for which he did…
    He drinks a lot for years, and still doing it outside the house, during the pandemic.

    Secondly, and this goes back over 15 years ago, when my mother worked at an embroidery company as a controller/ book keeper….Pay went out to the workers, and they started to complain, why taxes were being taken out….My mother said, yes that is correct. They still complained, and went to the owner…The owner said for my mother to cut them new checks, as they dont have to pay taxes….

    I live here in Southern Bergen County, Next to Northern Hudson county…The most densely population Per Square Mile, in the entire U.S. ( basically North Bergen, West New York, Fairview, Guttenberg, Union City..and a few others, are all the most densely populated in the U.S., of South Americans, MANY – cant stress enough, are illegal…It is a know destination to reach once the cross the southern border, as is a few other areas, Uptown NYC, Maryland, Cali, etc…

    We ( the U.S. have at LEAST 22 Million Illegal Immigrants in the U.S.

    People tend to say ONLY 11 Million, That is TOTAL hog wash..
    PEW Research, in 2005 ( still has posted on their OWN web site) that there are 11 Million in the U.S.

    Google this Headline form 2005
    “””” Size and Characteristics of the Unauthorized Migrant Population in the U.S.””””
    It still shows that PEW Research back in 2005 was saying, 11 Million illegal Immigrants in the U.S.

    So that means in 15 years, based upon “their” research, the amount of illegal immigrans has not increased…

    LIE !!!

    U.S. Border Patrol Apprehended, over 1 Million illegal immigrants LAST YEAR ALONE, from over 52 countries, crossing the Mexican Border….FACT, and info is directly from the Border Patrol.,

    Some people here are saying “‘Give Back taxes they paid”
    How About they give back all the FREE they receive
    – Free housing ( FHA)
    – Schooling
    – College
    – Medical Care
    – Child Care
    – Free access to legal services
    – Free access to lawyers
    – Free access to illegal immigrant support groups, (which some have leaders who are here illegally ( like the one in the news, over the last year, lives in NYC, and has a business, and Business Tax ID ??? NUTS! )

    — We have received mail at our home, with our address, and South American names MANY times
    — the Last local elections, I had spoken to a woman who was managing the voting booths, and lives in town, SHE ALSO receives mail with South American Names, but with her address on it.

    – We have received Hospital Collection Notices, for ER room services, to our address, but with South American names ( I am sure the names are bogus)…

    — They are gaming the system, and Tax Payers are paying for it dearly

    The madness has to be stopped, and the Flogging of U.S. tax payers must end.
    Respect our laws, ( which they dont) become a citizen, which they wont…
    And stop complaining for more free !

  6. Let’s give back the taxes they paid! Then we can take back the Earned Income Credit they all get on their tax returns. While we’re at it, charge them for all the freebies: schools, medical care, welfare, SNAP, WIC, Section 8, public defenders.

  7. Since the consensus seems to be that immigrants, who do not become citizens and still enjoy the benefits of living here should not receive benefits. Then it seems that they should not have had the taxes to pay for those benefits withheld from their paychecks. Why not simply, return all the money withheld from their pay for all those years. That would be fair and still give them the opportunity, now that they can’t go to work , to study for their citizen examination. I doubt many native Americans could pass that test.
    Or like the wives of our president and senate chairman, they could simply marry citizens and the problem would be solved.

  8. They are all breaking the stay at home orders all around Morristown. 28 percent of the Covid PositiveIn NJ are Hispanic. They aren’t distancing , they are packed in on the corner and train station everyday. Whoever comes to pick them up for work should be fined. If I can’t go to work or hang out in a park , then they should have the same applied to them waiting in large groups for work. The police are ticketing us but wait across the street watching this all day in Morristown and don’t even get out of their vehicle. The Mayor of this town should be ashamed.

  9. As a mother and an African American, I can understand wanting your children to be safe and have better opportunities and I understand racism. Illegal immigrants who are already here after a certain length of time should be mandated to become citizens in a certain amount of time and learn English. They should pay taxes just like everyone else, what they do with their money is up to them, send it back home, I understand, but the U.S. should not have to pay for that. Remember, you entered this country illegally – you broke the law getting here! I would think that once you’re here you would want to do everything you could to show your gratitude! But, the immigration laws need to be revised and the process of becoming a citizen should also be revised.

  10. No way.

    I has nothing to do with being a Latino or Race.

    Follow the laws, come here the right way like the rest of us.

  11. These undocumented immigrants let’s call.them.what they are crimminalsthey are here illegally. The ITINs (Individual Tax Identification Numbers) are not social security numbers they are for businesses. Many illegals getvthem and this is how they scam to get jobs they ate mot supposed to have. They bitch about not getting aid will come to this country legally then you get benefits. Not rely on the citizens for all your needs. People like the ones that run these resource centers should be arrested for aiding these crimminals including the churches. Thiis a 2nd article about this BS. If I was in charge ICE would have an order to round them all up send them bs k. Ifvthey cane back a 2nd time shoot them right ehere they stand. It’s not that immigrants are here but the illegals putting s burden on the Americsn Citizen and wexare sick and tired of it. You dont like it go back.

  12. Enough with this Cry me a river. I dont Feel for them. Many have been here in the U.S. Illegally, for 1 to 2 decades, including my neighbor from Guatemala. I asked him 8 months ago, if he has become citizen yet….NOPE !!! He tells me the BS line he is on a Work Visa…. What BS!! They dont give out 20 year Work Visa’s and they dont renew them for 20 years, ( which this year, he has been in the U,S, now for 20 years, and still can hardly speak any form of English. Overall, this topic of illegal immigration has been something I see first hand here in NJ, for 2 decades, and I live it the Most Densely Population area ( and surrounding towns) Per Square Mile in the entire U.S. .—- in the last 20 years, it has become Little Mexico…MS-13 Gang Hot Spot, known by the Feds, drugs, and lot of illegals…..NO MORE FREE, on the U.S. Tax Payers Dime…. They want the cake, of living here, and ear it too. Free Schooling, College, Drivers Licenses, Housing, Medical Care Child Care, clothing food, housing, ALL before the Pandemic for many years, NOW they also want Stimulus Checks, and it will be ANOTHER thing paid for, by U.S. tax payers……..What DONT we give they for free, It will be a much shorter list ! STOP the Madness, Become a Legal U.S., Citizen, stop hiding out in Churches, and hiding from ICE…..And as another commenter said, this has NOTHIHNG to do with racism ..has EVERYTIHNG to do with laws, and costs to U.S. Tax Payers, and that Illegal ‘s need to FINALLY respect U.S. Laws…

  13. I understand the sentiments and issues raised by the other posts in this comment section. Illegal immigration can be a hot topic, but I’d just like to throw my two cents in. I get why American citizens would be frustrated that people who aren’t legal citizens would demand to get pandemic relief. At the same time, however, it seems morally inexcusable. If they’re already living here, why ignore them and let them suffer when so many of them have also been laid off? A lot of people seem to have this sense of self entitlement from the simple fact that they were born in this country. Not sure why people have such an attitude like this. The unfortunate truth of our world is that some countries are better off economically and politically than others. As US citizens, we have greater political freedoms and more opportunities due to our strong economy compared to a majority of others in this world. The simple truth is you don’t choose where you’re born. Yet just because we got the luck of the draw to be born in this country, we somehow feel we’re more deserving of certain rights. I understand you can’t take care of everyone, but for those who are already here, why not help them out? They’re people just like you and I, and they deserve to have a quality of life and opportunities that we do. The random chance of where you’re born should not dictate your lot in life, but the way our world of nation states is currently set up, the unfortunate reality is that this is the current case. Someone born in Honduras definitely does not have the same opportunities that US citizens have access to. I can’t blame them for wanting to come here. For those that are here illegally, ask yourself if you were put in their shoes, how would you feel?

  14. “He said he is struggling to pay rent, buy food and support his family back in Honduras.”

    Because that’s really the purpose of the stimulus, to give the illegal workers (who paid taxes on their illegal incomes, what saints!) money to…support their families back in Honduras.

    Way to stimulate the economy!

  15. I tend to lean left on most social issues, but certainly not all. Including immigration. It isn’t a bias/racism issue either. I love how open border proponents spin it like that. I don’t care if you are from central America, Europe, Asia etc. If you aren’t in the U.S. legally, you have no right to be here and you have no right to demand money and services in this country. It’s about economics; we can’t afford to provide public services to the millions of people who decided to break the law and enter the United States. It is killing our public education system and healthcare system. And I must admit I don’t fully understand the tax angle, or even if it is true. Illegals pay taxes on the goods and services they purchase, but they certainly don’t file state or federal taxes. They also send most of the money they earn out of the U.S. economy back to their countries of origin. This is no time to give away money to people who aren’t legal citizens of this country. Just the opposite. Oh you are here illegally and aren’t making enough money now (in jobs Americans should have to begin with)? How sad. Then travel back across the border and make a living back in your home country.

  16. Is this the same Brian Lozano in the daily record who got married at his house in Dover? Did everyone at the wedding live at the residence? If not, they were in violation of executive order 107 banning all social gatherings and celebrations regardless of how many people were present. (They are justifying it by saying there was less than 10 people present). Mr. Palomo has quite the list of “demands”. He expects money because he cannot support his family back in Honduras? Perhaps he and his family should demand money from the Honduran government.

  17. So these people have been here paying taxes for 18-29 YEARS and they haven’t finished the process in becoming a US citizen?? Why be here if you have no reason to become a citizen?

    And Jairo Palomo….when you learn how our government works maybe then you can have a ground to stand on to complain. Blame Congress for not getting your stimulus check not the president. Because they are the ones that put the bill together.

  18. “Undocumented workers,” as though it’s an administrative glitch. 🙂
    They shouldn’t get a nickel of the stimulus money. Illegals should be rounded up, deported, and their enablers prosecuted.
    We don’t need them here ignoring our immigration laws, committing crimes, and taking our jobs.