CAMDEN, NJ — Local, state and federal resources have set out to take some financial burden off those in Camden dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, but the same cannot be said for all families.
The public comment’s section of a virtual town hall held by the city Thursday led one resident, Lewis Vasquez, to ask in Spanish: What assistance is being offered to the undocumented in the city?
“There really has been zero coming from the federal government…trickling down to the state or the municipal level for that matter,” Mayor Frank Moran said, noting that some of those undocumented are workers on the frontline.
“This is a humanitarian issue...and it's unfortunate that these individuals are being overlooked as historically they've been by this administration on a federal level,” he added.
Moran said the undocumented still have access to coronavirus screenings at the city’s new testing sites.
"[However] unless you have a work visa or a social security, federal government resources are not available and it's really, really upsetting,” Moran said.
Health officials announced Friday that 46 of Camden County's new 113 COVID-19 cases are from the city of Camden — which now accounts for 882 of the total 3,221 known cases.
There were also 11 new deaths reported, making the countywide death toll 138.
As for access to health needs, state guidance has been provided for the undocumented who believe they require testing.
City spokesman Vincent Basara also told TAPinto Camden that local area hospitals are equipped to handle patients regardless of documentation status — including having bilingual services on hand.
Anyone who feels ill — regardless of their documentation status — is still encouraged to contact their primary doctor first before leaving their home or heading to a hospital.
In addition, Camden County Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez, who also heads the health department, said over the years work has been done to establish relationships with those communities.
“We have liaisons that can help them feel comfortable reaching out if they need services,” Rodriguez said in a phone interview. “No one is going to call ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), no one’s going to ask about their residency, and we understand the reality is that these individuals are still afraid, so we must convey the message.”