Thursday, September 9, 2021

Don’t pay the New York stimulus ‘fixers’

 

“There was a lot of me trying to be a 'fixer.' I was that kind of guy. I'd meet someone who had 'so much potential' that needed 'help.' I think that was kind of my curse for a long time.”

Adam Lambert

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

I HAVE reiterated my advice to several undocumented Filipino workers in New York not to pay any amount to fixers who will approach or have already approached them when they applied or about to apply for payments from the state of New York under the $2.1 billion Fund for Excluded Workers passed by lawmakers in April.

I have been tipped by several undocumented Filipino workers they were asked to shell out at least $65 for “registration” to a certain Filipino-run immigration organization based in New York City before they could be accommodated.

The immigration organization reportedly promised to facilitate their applications once they have paid the amount.

But not all Pinoy undocumented workers are qualified, I was informed.

Some of those who have paid the “registration” don’t have the assurance that they are eligible.

“Sabi nga ng isang fixer, ‘kayo na po bahala sa akin’ if he facilitates my application,” Rona, a caregiver who arrived in New York in 2016, told this writer. 

Rona, 53, thinks she is qualified because she has been paying her taxes for five years now.

“Even if I am undocumented, I continued to file my income tax for the last five years,” she added.

Some undocumented workers in New York have started their applications for an aid payment of $15,600 or $3,200, minus tax, in early August 2021.

 

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We must always remember that in every paradise there is serpent. 

In every forest there is snake.

If someone offers or has offered help to apply, they shouldn’t trust them.

Qualified applicants should only apply for these benefits from the official Department of Labor website and get help only from trusted organizations, I was told.

If a person tries to charge money or collect personal information to help then apply, they should not give them anything.

The law was created to allow undocumented people who were not eligible for unemployment insurance due to immigration status to “finally” get some aid.

There are about 275,000 undocumented immigrants in New York, and at least 164,000 in Brooklyn, according to Jessy Edwards of BKReader.

Workers who can provide written proof of income from before the pandemic—like paystubs or tax returns—are eligible for $15,600. But those who cannot will only be able to get $3,200.

Below are eligible for the stimulus money: Those who lived in New York before March 27, 2020, and still live here; those who didn’t get unemployment insurance; those who earned less than $26,208 from April 2020 to April 2021; those who lost their income between Feb. 23, 2020 and April 1, 2021; and those who became responsible for most of the household income due to death or disability of the main income earner in the house

 

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How much will they get? They will either get $15,600 or $3,200, minus taxes. 

The amount they get will depend on what documents they can provide.

The Department of Labor hasn’t said yet how much tax will come out of each payment.

More than one person in a household can apply. The application is individual. Every working person in the home who might be eligible can apply.

They will have to present the following documents:

1.   Proof of identity through your passport, ID cards, or other official documents like marriage or divorce licenses.

2.   Show proof that you lived in New York before March 27, 2020 and that you live in New York now.

3.   Proof through letters, pay stubs, W2, tax return, wage notice or other documentation that you were working before the pandemic.

If they provide 1, 2, and 3, they may be eligible for $15,600 minus taxes.

If they can’t do 1, 2, and 3, they may still be eligible for $3,200 minus taxes if they can show proof of their identity, proof that they live in New York and some sort of work documents that the Department of Labor hasn’t announced yet.

Their documents will only be used to prove their identity, that they live in New York, and information about their work history, the Department of Labor said even if it assured them it will not share documents with anyone unless required by law.

The Department of Labor reportedly cannot share the information internally, either, to its unemployment insurance bureau or anyone else.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two dailies in Iloilo)

 

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