Undocumented immigrant communities are hard to reach during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.
New York has a sizeable immigrant community as well as a population of people who are undocumented and may not be able to access to the same kind of benefits as the rest of the state's population.
And not being able to access basic health care needs duing a public health crisis, while a political debate in normal times, becomes as a necessity during a public health crisis.
"There's a particularly acute need now with more people contracting COVID-19, transmission rates increasing a lot and we still have a situation in this state where hundreds of thousands of people cannot access health care as a result of their immigration status," said Max Hadler, the director of Health Policy at the New York Immigration Coalition.
And with the pandemic about to turn a corner with a vaccine, there's also concern with the ability of undocumented immigrants being able to access those doses as they rollout.
"I really hope they will have the same access as everyone else," said Michael Freestone, an attorney who works on immigration cases with the law firm Tully Rinckey. "But I'm concerned that there hasn't been clear messaging about this and I'm concerned people here with that status would be scared or unwilling to go and get the vaccine over the concern ICE will come and pick them up."
And there are some of the more indirect effects of the pandemic on the immigrant community. Government buildings like courthouses have not been open to the general public or their hours have been inconsistent.
"We've filed an enormous amount of cases in October and we're yet to receive notifications from the USCIS that they're in progress," Freestone said. "And we're looking at eight weeks now. It's ridiculous."
Concerns over reaching undocumented immigrants during the crisis are not new. Earlier this year, a push was made to ensure those communities would be counted during the U.S. Census amid a legal battle with the Trump administration.
Gov. Andrew wants to conduct an outreach campaign on getting a vaccine and that is going to be targeting hard to reach communities like undocumented immigrants, enlisting advocacy groups along the way. He is seeking $1 billion in federal aid for a distribution program statewide in New York.