If you look closely, you’ll notice a small shelf near the front door of Marco Malagon’s house in Pleasant Grove. Malagon built it himself for shoes that might be contaminated. He said he did everything he could to protect himself and his family from COVID-19.
“Getting home, washing my hands, changing clothes and making sure my kids didn’t touch me before I clean myself,” said Malagon.
Even with all the precautions, more than a month ago he got the coronavirus and passed it on to his daughter.
“Saturday I kind of woke up feeling dizzy and with a little bit of a temperature,” he said. “Sunday, I had a full-blown temperature. I was feeling tired.”
They’ve since quarantined, recovered, and recently retested negative. But they make up a growing number of Hispanic people who’ve contracted the virus. In Dallas County, Hispanics make up roughly 60% of all COVID-19 cases.
“We are the ones that are facing the pandemic face to face,” said Malagon. “There’s this thing that they call essential workers. But in reality, we’re sacrificial workers. We’re the working class. We are the ones that unfortunately most of us don’t have the luxury to stay and work from home,”
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It’s why he’s glad the city of Dallas will distribute a $500,000 in grant money to immigrant families not eligible for federal relief dollars. The City of Dallas Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs partnered with the Open Society Foundations to establish the Emma Lazarus Resilience Fund.
In a news release from the City of Dallas, the money will be disbursed to families who have been “severely financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic” and will include immigrant workers who “play a vital role in the city’s economy.”
Malagon is formerly undocumented and works with dozens of immigrant families through the organization's North Texas Dream Team.
“I do know the face to face reality with a lot of my families that don’t have papers,” he said. “They don’t have the luxury to have their employees pay when they get sick.”
Liz Cedillo-Pereira with the Department of Equity and Inclusion tells us nonprofit organizations that already serve immigrant communities will partner with the city in distributing the funds.
Malagon is certain it will come as a much-needed relief to families during precarious times.
“We have to provide for our families. So, us being the sacrificial workers, you see the results,” he said. “It’s definitely going to bring a little bit of relief to those people that really need it.”
The press release from the City of Dallas quoted Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson:
“Dallas is a vibrant, diverse, and welcoming city. Our people are our greatest asset, and they routinely help their neighbors during times of crisis. As we fight the COVID-19 pandemic, this private fund will help provide relief to the many communities in need."
Information on more programs are accessible from DallasCityHall.com/covid19.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.