Queens lawmaker grateful that city burial assistance program will include undocumented immigrants

Reuters/Lukas Jackson

He has watched as the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged his district especially in Corona, where he is a lifelong resident. Since his neighborhood was the epicenter of the onslaught since early April, Councilman Francisco Moya has been calling on the city to help low-income and immigrant families whose loved ones have died from the coronavirus make death arrangements.

So, Moya was grateful when the de Blasio administration increased burial assistance and expanded the program to undocumented immigrants. The NYC Human Resources Administration raised burial assistance from $900 to $1,700 and removed the requirement for the applicant to provide Social Security numbers for themselves and the deceased, a rule that had effectively barred undocumented immigrants from eligibility.

“No community has been spared by the COVID-19 crisis but for undocumented immigrants, the disease has been particularly cruel,” Moya said. “Not only were undocumented New Yorkers denied being among loved ones in their final moments but they were also denied a dignified burial among them as well, whether in their adopted country or their native one. That’s just not acceptable in a city built by immigrants. I thank Mayor de Blasio for making these funds available to undocumented New Yorkers and Speaker Corey Johnson for standing with me in support of providing families with emergency burial assistance.”

Johnson added that he was glad that the mayor agreed and moved forward with a “humane plan” that will assist more New Yorkers in need.

“The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately hit our immigrant communities,” Johnson said. “Making funds available for undocumented immigrants to have proper burials and also increasing the amount of assistance for HRA’s program is the compassionate thing to do. For many New Yorkers, the cost of burying or cremating a loved one can be out of reach. They deserve better which is why Council member Moya and I called for emergency aid to help New Yorkers pay for final resting arrangements for their loved ones, regardless of immigration status.”

For more information on the HRA’s burial assistance program, visit its website here.

“New York City is once again demonstrating what justice and equity look like as it expands eligibility for the HRA’s burial assistance program to all low-income New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, and increasing the reimbursement limit,” Moya said. “This step is crucial to addressing the systemic inequalities this disease has brought to the fore.”

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