Dana is a 45 year old Filipina immigrant and is currently living in San Jose working as an on-demand caregiver with an agency. She came to the US on vacation with a work visa in 2017 and stayed because she fell in love, got married, but was abandoned by her now ex husband.

“Even though we are not citizens or we are not well–we’re undocumented — we pay our taxes diligently, every time, and then come this pandemic–no support. Not all of us have work right now. Many are jobless right now. It’s hard. We cannot go to the governor [and say], “Hey can we get support from you? We are paying taxes.”

As an undocumented worker in her previous caregiver job, she experienced wage discrimination in her workplace, was often not paid fully for the days she worked, and was verbally abused through threats of deportation.

“If you are undocumented, it is always unfair, because they know that undocumented people, they will just accept whatever it is at the table, because they cannot complain. They just accept things, because they’re afraid that they are going to be turned in. At the back of our mind, we’ll just accept it because we have a family to support. We need to work. We don’t have rights.” 

Obstacles for her line of work with the elderly have only been increased in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is currently struggling to find a consistent job with the deadline of her work permit coming this October. She cannot access adequate food assistance through the government, and she has to gamble her health amid a pandemic with no health insurance due to her undocumented status.

“It [the pandemic] has created confusion. It created anxiety–more anxiety, because I don’t know what is going to happen. I mean, you’re always afraid to go out,  because one thing–at the back of my mind, I don’t have insurance. What if I got sick, right?”

“What happened to our world, like the pandemic…there’s no work. We’re paranoid. We cannot engage in the regular things that we love to do. Like our job, especially the caretakers, we are so affected, because families do not want their own to be taken care of by [an] outsider now because they are afraid their mom or dad is going to be affected because they are vulnerable [to] the virus.”

Photographer Credit: Kirsten Jill Aguilar

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