Worker’s Voice: Undocumented, Out of Work, and Serving the People

By Mike Talavera

A Tribune of the People reporter recently interviewed a comrade in Los Angeles (who wished to remain anonymous) who has been out of work since just before the lockdowns were put in place in March. An undocumented restaurant worker, the comrade has struggled to find relief, since he cannot apply for unemployment insurance and is not eligible for the stimulus checks that were sent out beginning in April. Even special funds that were supposed to provide relief to undocumented people, like the Angeleno Debit Card for Los Angeles residents, didn’t help him or most of the half a million that applied because funds ran out after only 20,000 cards were distributed.

Because of this lack of support, the comrade has had to rely on food banks, friends, and comrades just to get his basic nutrition. “The whole last month I ate nothing but breakfast patties for lunch and dinner because I got a bunch of them from the food bank,” the comrade told Tribune.

He has struggled to get his papers from a resentful former boss, and most restaurants have maintained only skeleton crews during the lockdown, so it has been difficult to find work. Apart from some day labor work, the comrade has not found anything stable, but he has maintained his resolve and used his spare time to focus on serving the people with local revolutionary mass organizations.

“I’m going to use my time wisely, and I feel like I have,” the comrade said. “Capitalism tells us that as an immigrant I should be quiet, be on the outskirts of society, not participate in anything, and I find that completely flawed.”

The comrade said now in a time of crisis, it’s especially important for those being oppressed like himself to fight back.