This is the opportunity to make the voice of immigrants heard.
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Early voting begins this Saturday in New York and for the first time I will vote so my voice and the voice of my community are heard at the polls.
I live in Queens, in one of the areas most affected by the pandemic and where many continue to suffer. My family almost lost my husband when he fell ill with COVID-19 and was hospitalized for almost a month.
For a long time, there has been a lack of investment and resources in our communities and the pandemic revealed and intensified these inequalities. As an employment justice organizer with Make the Road New York, I witnessed how many of our community members lost loved ones, lost their jobs, continually worry about paying their rent, and have to queue at food pantries. in order to provide food for their families. Our communities are currently facing a health crisis, a housing crisis, and an economic crisis.
One of the most difficult moments during this pandemic has been the phone call from one of our members, Concepción. She revealed how her husband, daughter and herself had contracted the virus and that her husband had just passed away. I still remember the anguish and sadness in her voice. You lost your loved one and your family’s main provider; Without immigration status, you have been left out of state and federal financial relief. Sadly, her story is not unique. Millions of families across the country have been excluded from government relief simply because of their immigration status.
I am an immigrant from the Dominican Republic and a year ago I became a citizen. The first thing I did was register to vote. And it is because of stories from people like Concepción that I will go to vote this year, and I will vote early. Voting is a crucial way to demonstrate our power and ensure that the voices of the most vulnerable are heard by elected officials.
For the first time in the presidential election, New Yorkers can vote early today through November 1. Similarly, you can vote on Election Day, November 3. And if you prefer to vote by mail, you have until October 27 to request your ballot. All the information you need can be found on our website and your early voting site can be found here by selecting your county on the page and entering your address.
We have the opportunity to transform our country and our state. We must use all the tools at our disposal to defend and protect our communities – that includes voting.
Let’s vote to make sure that all of our communities are included in COVID-19 economic recovery legislation, that renters are protected, that rich people pay more taxes, and out of respect and dignity for working class and immigrant communities.
Modesta Toribio is an employment justice organizer for Make the Road New York, New York’s largest organization providing direct services and organizing the community. On Twitter: @MaketheRoadNY