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Coney Island—which is heavily populated by undocumented immigrants—was decimated. Homes were flooded and people’s things were washed away. Interestingly, as devastating as that would be for most people, for many immigrants, it’s not the end of the world. After all, most immigrants come here with just a few dollars in their pockets and somehow find a way to make it work. The mentality of immigrants today is the same as it was when being an immigrant was not a crime: We work hard for the best future possible; you can sleep when you’re dead. With that said, it is still a major setback and most of the undocumented immigrants are too afraid to say anything or to ask for help for the same reason that they have not tried achieving legal status. They fear getting caught and deported.
I grew up in Coney Island and lived there for five years. I saw the neighborhood last week and it was heartbreaking to see how badly it was hit. I took itpersonally. This neighborhood and the people in it shaped who I am today. I found out recently that the building I used to live in was flooded. And I wondered how immigrants living there now could handle a situation like this or how my mother would have handled a situation like this.
You might be wondering why landlords would even rent to undocumented immigrants to begin with. Well, the truth is, landlords love undocumented immigrants. We pay cash and we never complain—not about a leak, not about peeling paint or no heat and, more than likely, we wouldn’t even complain about a hurricane. I’m not saying all landlords are scumbags—some of them have to be decent—but a lot of them, in certain parts of the city, exploit immigrants because they know that their undocumented tenants will never dare hold them responsible for anything.