In Long Island Community With Most Coronavirus Cases, Brentwood Day Laborers Say: ‘If The Virus Doesn’t Kill Us, Hunger Will’

Hispanic immigrants stand on the streets of Suffolk County to get a job and earn a daily living at the risk of getting COVID-19. (Noticia Long Island photo)

Coronavirus has proven most deadly among Hispanics in New York State, and in Brentwood, one of Long Island’s largest Latino immigrant communities, undocumented day laborers are among the most vulnerable.

The men, often seen waiting for work from contractors outside of local Home Depots or on street corners, work temporary jobs, often in construction. But with work drying up along with most other business due to coronavirus, undocumented El Salvadoran, Honduran, and Guatemalan day laborers living in the shadows in Brentwood — which has the most COVID-19 cases of any community on LI — are struggling for survival in the face of both the pandemic and lack of food.

“If the virus doesn’t kill us, hunger will kill us,” one Brentwood day laborer who declined to give his name for fear of deportation told Noticia Long Island. “An immigrant has to go out looking for food … Who helps immigrants here? They only help those who have papers.”

As of Monday, there were 3,376 confirmed coronavirus cases in Brentwood  the most of any one comunity on LI. The figure made up 10 percent of all COVID-19 cases in Suffolk County, which had 33,140 cases for the same time period. Hispanics make up 34 percent of coronavirus fatalities statewide.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has said that immigrants will not be asked about their status if they go to testing sites in Brentwood and other minority communities.

But, to make matters worse, another day laborer said the area’s shopping malls, supermarkets, and other businesses are price gouging.

“How are we going to pay $10 for water?” the man, who also declined to give his name, told Noticia. “This is not logical! … Right now we are supposed to hold hands and help each other.”

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