NUEVA YORK (AP) — Más de tres de cada cuatro inmigrantes que viven en algunas de las zonas afectadas por el huracán Sandy en la región metropolitana de Nueva York no ha pedido aún ayuda al gobierno federal, a la Cruz Roja o ha solicitado cupones de alimentos, señala un nuevo reporte difundido el martes.

La situación es peor para los que no hablan inglés: 82% de los encuestados en el estudio de la organización Se Hace Camino Nueva York no ha solicitado ayuda federal o privada.

"Esa es una cantidad muy alta. La mayoría nos dicen que no saben cómo solicitar la ayuda", dijo Sara Cullinane, de Se Hace Camino Nueva York, durante una rueda de prensa en el condado de Staten Island, gravemente afectado por la tormenta del 29 de octubre.

El informe, llamado "Unmet Needs" ("Necesidades insatisfechas"), muestra el difícil panorama de familias inmigrantes que perdieron sus casas temporalmente o para siempre debido al huracán, además de sus empleos y que sufren problemas económicos tras el paso de la tormenta. Otros necesitan asistencia médica para superar problemas de ansiedad o depresión y muchos han regresado a casas llenas de moho que les provocan problemas de salud, señala el estudio.

Algunos de los 416 inmigrantes encuestados en el sondeo se encuentran legalmente en Estados Unidos, mientras que otros no tienen papeles. A pesar de que hay inmigrantes que no saben ni cómo solicitar ayuda tras el desastre natural, muchos tienen miedo de hacerlo porque eso supone reportarse ante las autoridades, dijo la organización.

Inmigrantes en situación irregular pueden recibir ayuda económica federal o vivienda temporal ofrecida por el gobierno si tienen hijos nacidos en Estados Unidos o viven con al menos un ciudadano estadounidense o "extranjero habilitado", es decir, que cumple con alguna de varias categorías de estatus legal.

Los que no califican para ayuda gubernamental pueden solicitar cupones de alimentos bajo el programa Disaster Food Stamps si viven en ciertas zonas de la ciudad. También pueden trasladarse a los refugios que la ciudad ha habilitado para víctimas de Sandy, y la ayuda psicológica y médica está disponible a través de varias agencias.

Se Hace Camino Nueva York, una organización de ayuda a inmigrantes, realizó su estudio en Staten Island, donde vive una gran comunidad mexicana, y en zonas de Long Island como Patchogue, Central Islip, Babylon, Brentwood y Long Beach, donde muchos de los encuestados eran salvadoreños.

María Raquel Sánchez, una mexicana de 50 años, explicó durante la presentación del informe que perdió su hogar y su empleo debido al huracán y que hasta el momento no ha solicitado ayuda porque no tiene hijos nacidos en Estados Unidos.

"No he podido obtener ninguna asistencia", dijo Sánchez, quien vive con su hijo en casa de unos familiares desde la inundación de su vivienda. "Las rentas que cobran ahora son casi el doble de lo que yo pagaba y mi casero no me devuelve el depósito que le di. Estoy aquí para pedirle al alcalde y al gobernador que vengan a apoyar a los inmigrantes".

Sánchez dijo que perdió su empleo cuidando a los hijos de una familia cuando ésta se quedó también sin la casa que tenía en Staten Island debido a la tormenta.

Según el reporte, un 40% de inmigrantes reportan haber sufrido daños económicos debido a la tormenta y aproximadamente un 11% perdieron su empleo de forma permanente tras el paso de Sandy.

Un sistema burocrático complicado, mala información, pocos servicios de traducción y la obligación de presentar identificación entorpecen además el proceso de solicitud de ayuda federal y local, denunció el reporte.

El informe pide a las autoridades la creación de una junta que se encargue de analizar y atender las necesidades de comunidades inmigrantes afectadas por Sandy. También pide que la Agencia Federal de Manejo de Asistencias haga mayores esfuerzos para acercarse a la población inmigrante y asistirla, entre otras recomendaciones.

Portavoces de la Agencia no respondieron de forma inmediata a una solicitud de declaraciones de la Associated Press.

____

Claudia Torrens está en Twitter como http://www.twitter.com/ClaudiaTorrens

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