Dear Editor, 

Three decades ago, I escaped a bloody civil war and deep poverty in El Salvador to find a better life here in the U.S. I didn’t flee one miserable situation just to find another one here, yet that’s been life as a Latina essential cleaner under this President. Every time I go to work, I’m risking my life, and my family’s to keep people safe from COVID, yet we don’t receive a penny extra of hazard pay, nor unemployment when we are laid off.

 While the President’s diagnosis shows that the virus doesn’t discriminate, the inequality facing Latina essential workers certainly does. Every day we pay the price for the President’s failed leadership on Coronavirus. He has repeatedly abandoned essential workers who desperately needed PPE, hazard pay and unemployment. He even risked getting his own essential cleaners sick because of his reckless behavior. This hits close to home as more than 138 of my fellow union essential workers lost their lives due to Coronavirus.

 Unlike the President, most essential cleaners do not get paid time off, taxpayer-funded healthcare and all of the resources necessary to recover if we get COVID. Instead, we must choose between going to work and risking our health and possibly infecting our families or losing our jobs and the roof over our heads. Missing even a day of work can mean financial ruin, especially for those of us without paid sick days or childcare. 

 Now that I am a U.S. citizen and voting for the first time, my voice is vital to cutting through the misinformation about Joe Biden in Virginia, where the fight for the Latino vote has become fierce. We need justice and a better future for those who can’t participate in this election. I can help change what’s happening by stopping Trump from continuing all of these terrible things. I am excited to finally vote because I trust in Joe Biden. He’s a very good person who will help immigrants and change things around. Biden is a man of faith, a Catholic like me who believes that all people deserve compassion and empathy.

 A Biden presidency would keep us all safer from COVID and safer from falling into poverty. He has promised hazard pay, free COVID testing, affordable treatment and expanded unemployment that would save countless lives and help us support our families. I dream of having a competent and honest leader in the White House, one who leads by example by staying safe himself, and cares about keep frontline essential workers like me—and all Americans—safe.

 That’s why essential workers like me are spending eight hours a day, five days a week calling voters in Virginia, to ensure that the Commonwealth votes for Joe Biden. Essential cleaners are working feverishly to make a difference in the election because the difference that the election will make in their own lives and communities is a matter of life or death.

Silvia Cabrera

Falls Church, VA

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