New artwork in SoHo honors undocumented immigrants who lost lives to COVID

SOHO, Manhattan (WABC) -- New artwork is honoring undocumented immigrants who lost their lives to COVID. The pictures and stories are of seven men and women who came to this country and worked hard, some as essential workers during the pandemic.

Mario Hernandez was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico.

"He was just a very hardworking guy - he worked in painting, taxi driver, soccer coach," said his daughter, Xochitl Hernandez.

Mario's wife, Leticia was always by the side of the man she loved - the man she lost to COVID last year. He was 59 years old.

The story of Mario and six others line the windows of a building in SoHo - a project spearheaded by local artist Paola Mendoza.

"Specifically I wanted to mourn the community that has been foundational to the survival of the U.S. of this pandemic, and has been sidelined, in many places disregarded and disparaged," Mendoza said.

Each individual has a unique story - Fedelina was a slave in the U.S. for 65 years.

"She got freed from slavery at the age of 83. She died in an old age home at the age of 84, and she had one year of freedom in the U.S.," said Mendoza.

The artwork shows stories of survival and dreams.

Alexander Aguilar's father, Guadalupe, also an undocumented immigrant, did everything for his children.

"He wanted the American dream for us - to have financial freedom," Aguilar said, "He cared about his family. He was a family man."

He lost his life to COVID last year, and to his dying day, he left a legacy of working hard, kindness and perseverance.

"My father working 30 plus years - not just him, but all immigrants deserve benefits," Aguilar added.

The artwork is focusing on all the undocumented immigrants who have been forced to live in the shadows, and now the light is shining on all the good they have done to try to find a way to help others in their shoes.

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