Hispanic New Yorkers Feel Doubly Mistreated by Shutdown

Emperatriz Castro with her daughter Isabella. (Photo via El Diario)

The partial shutdown of the federal government could soon threaten the disbursement of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits as well as IRS refund checks. El Diario‘s José Martínez spoke with some individuals who worry about the consequences, and the broader implications:

If the shutdown extends beyond February, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefiting 1.5 million New Yorkers, will be in jeopardy. That includes the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC), which grants federal funding to states to cover supplementary food, medical attention and nutrition education services for low-income women who are pregnant – lactating or not – and to babies and children up to 5 years old at risk of malnutrition. At the state level, the program helps over 400,000 mothers and families.

“This is what worries me the most, because my daughter is 2 years old and, even though I am not receiving food assistance right now, I know how it feels to be in that position. I have friends who are very concerned because this government shutdown may mean that they might get a letter next week saying that their benefits have been suspended,” said Dominican-born Emperatriz Castro. “[President Trump] does not care about us, the people who endure the consequences of his decisions. All for that wall.” (…)

The 29-year-old added: “This goes even further than my mother and I being affected by, say, food stamps or bus service cuts. The problem here is that, if they build that wall, the most affected will be those of us who look Latino. In the end, the president’s only purpose is to push us aside and belittle us, both the people who want to come and the ones who already live here.”

(…) Marcelo Martínez, 55, and his 18-year-old son Gregory were already worried about the amount they would receive in this year’s tax refund. Together, they run a home delivery carpentry business and, despite uncertainties for the changes made to the tax reform, the prospect of receiving a check from the IRS is “always good news.”

Gregory Martinez, of Queens, who works as a carpenter, is concerned about the government shutdown. (Photo via El Diario)

However, this year their check may take a bit longer to arrive. Martínez believes that the situation is “inconceivable.”

“It is unbelievable that this man is doing all this and no one is able to stop him,” said the Mexico native. “This is very worrying, because it is not fair for us to be the most affected.”

The Hispanic worker’s concern is realistic: If the government does not open soon, countless New Yorkers will not have their tax refund checks processed. (…)

“It is not only about closing the government and making us all suffer. It is also a strategy to make us Mexicans feel guilty, even when we have been mistreated all this time. It is a strategy to debilitate Latinos,” explained Gregory. “But we will not let them. We will fight on.”

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