The family of newborn Quiera has not been receiving federal or state assistance during the pandemic.

Quiera rested calmly in her baby carrier, which was placed in a laundry cart here at a Newburgh laundromat while her grandfather, Nehemias Reyes, folded clothes and shared with Spectrum News his family’s struggles over the past year.

“I get fewer hours of work,” he said of life during the COVID-19 pandemic, speaking Spanish. “I can barely make rent. I can barely pay bills. I can barely afford milk for the baby.”

What You Need To Know

  • Activists say a preliminary proposal of $2.1 billion as a safety net for excluded workers is not enough

  • Lawmakers will continue negotiating the state budget over the next two days

  • Some families with children who are American citizens have not received emergency government assistance during the pandemic

A statewide coalition of immigrant rights groups has been lobbying for a $3.5 billion safety net for workers like Reyes, who have been excluded from government assistance, such as stimulus payments and unemployment insurance, during the pandemic.

In its preliminary “one-house” budget, the state Senate is proposing up to $2.1 billion for the safety net.

Rene Mejía Jr., an activist with the immigrant advocacy group Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, said he will not be satisfied with the compromise.

“To ensure that people, in fact, get what they need and get a proper amount, as well, we have to still look at pushing for more,” Mejía said during a Zoom interview Tuesday. Mejía said only an amount of $3.5 billion or higher would be enough to provide previously ineligible families monthly payments retroactive back to March 2020.

Mejía and other immigrant advocates have said a tax on the state’s billionaires could boost them to their magic number. Mejía is concerned that immigrant rights are being used as a bargaining chip during late-stage budget negotiations in Albany.

“We’ve noticed that any legislation that benefits the undocumented has always been hard to make sure it gets done,” Mejía said, “so the fight does continue.”