City Council passes resolution providing immigration relief to families of frontline workers lost during COVID-19 pandemic

Councilman Francisco Moya’s resolution, which would provide immigration relief for families of frontline workers who died during the COVID-19 pandemic, is approved by the City Council. (Photo by Gabriele Holterman)

The New York City Council voted to adopt a resolution introduced by Councilman Francisco Moya, calling on the United States Congress to pass — and President Joe Biden to sign — legislation that would provide immigration relief for the non-citizen family members who derive lawful status from a frontline worker who passed away due to COVID-19.

Moya represents neighborhoods including East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Corona that were dubbed as the “epicenter of the epicenter” when the pandemic descended on the borough one year ago.

“Immigrants have been on the front lines of this pandemic, putting their lives on the line for so many,” Moya said. “We need to value their contributions and honor the sacrifices they have made for our city and for our country during one of the worst pandemics of our time. And we must treat our immigrant community, including and especially children, with humanity. Providing immigrant relief to families of frontline healthcare workers that passed away due to the COVID-19 is one definite way to do so.”

The immigrant communities in Moya’s district have faced a disproportionate death toll, food insecurity and food lines, and the lack of city and state financial support for those left unemployed during the economic crisis that followed. According to the Mayor’s Office of Immigration Affairs, more than 47 percent of hospital medical staff and more than 79 percent of home healthcare aides are foreign-born across the five boroughs, and a large portion of foreign-born frontline workers in the healthcare professions are present in the U.S. on nonimmigrant visas.

If the primary visa-holder passes away, then all family members on derived visas must return to their countries of origin, according to the resolution.

“They are already suffering from loss while battling COVID-19; these families should not be fighting deportations and children should not lose the only home they’ve ever known here in the United States because their family members sacrificed their lives to help others during this unprecedented pandemic,” Moya said.