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NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Hundreds of immigrants took part in a sleep-in outside Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' penthouse on Fifth Ave. in Manhattan Thursday.
The demonstration was in support of a tax on billionaires, backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to raise money to help people hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
The group said the work of immigrants generates more than $1 billion in the U.S. economy, but many of them were ineligible to receive benefits during the COVID-19 crisis due to their citizenship status.
"I lost my job on March 8 and I don't have any income," said Gerry Vital, a Mexican immigrant who was working as a tour guide. "I sold my car to pay for the last four months of the rent and I started selling tacos in the street."
Vital and his wife are both documented, but became two of the tens of thousands who have stood in long lines at food pantries after they were unable toget help from the government.
Several local leaders have also joined in Ocasio-Cortez's call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo for a wealth tax.
"It would definitely go for rental assistance food assistance for people that have lost their jobs through the pandemic," New York State Assemblywoman Maritza Davila said. "Give it up. that's it. Give up the money, pay for our city, keep our city running effectively. Remember this city cannot run without the people that are here today."
There are 118 billionaires living in New York City, providing big revenue for the city and state.
Gov. Cuomo said if the tax existed it should be federal policy.
"Don't make New York alone do a tax increase and then have the people move to Connecticut. Have the federal government pass a tax increase and let them apply it all across the country so you don't hurt any one state," Cuomo said.
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