Flint’s Latinx Leaders Say COVID-19 Compounds Current Issues

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Apr 16, 2020

Earlier this week, Flintside.com hosted several Latinx activists and local community leaders in Flint, Michigan, for a panel discussion on Facebook Live to discuss how their communities are stepping up to support each other during yet another crisis when resources were already depleted. 

“There have been a number of different challenges that we have faced during this time, mainly with information access and navigating platforms and making sure they’re accessible [to the community,]” said Asa Ascencio-Zuccaro, executive director of the Latinx Technology and Community Center of Greater Flint. “Being locked out of the workforce is an issue for everybody, but when you put our language barrier, or an immigration status barrier or the inability to take advantage of some of these resources that are available to the majority of the population that’s definitely going to have a big impact on the health and well being of our community.”

Ascencio-Zuccaro was joined by local Latinx activist Aurora Sauceda and immigration lawyer Victoria Arteaga, who all shared experiences they’ve had with how to navigate the pandemic with little support. Arteaga described the shifts she’s witnessed with recent immigration cases.

“We’re seeing a big halt in proceedings because there’s hesitation to have people in a courtroom because there’s too much contact,” said Arteaga. “There are judges who have been exposed. Attorneys who have been exposed. We have to assume there are immigrants who have been exposed in the courts, so we’re seeing a big reduction in cases getting their day in court.”

In addition to immigration cases taking a hit, Arteaga, Sauceda and Ascencio-Zuccaro spoke about the Latinx community’s continued fear of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, census information* being used against them and the fear of getting tested because it may cost them employment and wages. “Instead of solving the problem,” Arteaga said, “these restrictions seem to be making the problem worse, at a time when it’s essential to be able to get help.”

*For Flint residents who need help with the census, visit LatinxFlint.org.

Watch Part 1 and Part 2 of the Flintside discussions below: