How the Water Crisis in Flint, MI is Affecting Undocumented Immigrants

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Michigan is known for having once been the center of the auto industry, it also boasts a diverse population and is especially known for its large number of Arab and Mexican immigrants. Not so far from Flint, MI sits Mexicantown in Detroit. Mexican-Americans who have lived in the city have created this hub and the Michigan Daily has even praised this part of Detroit as an exemplary part of the city.

Undocumented immigrants Denied Water For Lack Of ID

Immigrants back in Flint, MI—particularly those who are undocumented—are reporting that they have been denied water during this critical state of emergency. Estella Arias, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico told Fusion that when she asked for free water at her local fire department, she left because they asked for a social security number. This is even after the state said people would no longer be turned away if they can’t present an identification. Despite this, several residents are saying some places still demand an ID.

It also doesn’t help that people are afraid of the raids the Obama Administration began implementing at the beginning of the year. The National Guard has been driving door to door to deliver water to people with disabilities and the elderly, but undocumented people may be too afraid to open the door out of fear of deportation or family separation.

The immigrant population in Flint is quite low and many who don’t speak English as a first language found out about the water crisis recently. So far, the water crisis has been covered mostly in English, and local Spanish language news outlets have not covered the crisis. There is also not enough information in other languages about the crisis as well. The majority of undocumented people in the US don’t have health insurance, and this could have negative implications for undocumented people in Flint—the majority of whom are of Mexican descent.

Churches Lead Efforts For Relief

Image Source: Megan K

There have been some efforts to help the community though. The Red Cross donated filters and bottled waters to a local Catholic church, Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is leading the way in giving out water to undocumented people who are too afraid to go to local fire stations or government buildings for assistance. Other churches and faith-based organizations have followed suit.

Director of Action of Greater Lansing, Aida Cuadrado told PRI that some people already had rashes because they drank water from the tap. Last year locals contacted activist Erin Brockovich reporting changes to the color of the water.

This crisis began because the city of Flint switched from the Lake Huron water system to the local Flint river water system due to an economic crisis. Such changes were meant to help the city save money. Water in the Flint system was too corrosive and caused the lead from the city’s old pipes to get into people’s water supplies at home and that’s what led to the situation becoming what it is today. Thankfully there are churches, the Red Cross and even celebrities who are helping locals, including immigrants during this difficult time.

Wondering How Many People In The World Have Access To Clean Water? Watch This Video:

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Is Water A Human Right?

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