Hunger strike continues for undocumented workers denied COVID relief as budget deadline looms

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- With the state budget deadline fast approaching in Albany, activists are continuing a weekslong hunger strike to call attention to the plight of undocumented workers in the state.

They are also demanding that the governor and state legislators include financial assistance for those workers excluded from other relief efforts during the pandemic.

Thursday marked day 17 of the hunger strike and the mood was emotional out in front of the governor's office.

Protesters are demanding that Albany give undocumented workers unemployment and stimulus benefits. And the price tag? At least $3 billion.

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"Today we should have been celebrating. Today we should have been serving them a meal. But instead we're still waiting for an answer from Governor Cuomo, from Andrea-Stewart Cousins, and Carl Heastie," said Angeles Solis with Make the Road New York.

But Albany is stuck this year on whether to help the poor and tax the rich.

Democrats control everything in Albany, but they've clashed badly with the governor.

"Now here we are April 1 and there's not even a sign of a budget, not even a hint of a final deal," said New York Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt.



Republicans are also bickering with the governor, but they say at least he wants to reign in spending while New York tries to rebuild from a devastating 2020.

"I think it shows you no matter who's in charge here they're pushing for record tax increases, record spending," Ortt said.

Activists at Thursday's protest say they just want Gov. Andrew Cuomo to have a heart and help those most in need.

"I'm hoping that the governor puts his hand on his heart and realizes what is happening here -- that people are going on a hunger strike because they're so desperate for relief. It's been a year. Enough already." Said New York Sen. Jessica Ramos.

For many years Cuomo has pointed to an on-time budget with pride, but this year it is vastly different.

And with so many scandals around the governor, he has so much more to worry about than simply an on-time budget.

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Derick Waller reports on the marijuana bill from Lower Manhattan.



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