NEW YORK — Ulises García went from being a waiter to working at a laundromat. Yelitza Esteva used to do manicures and now delivers groceries. Maribel Torres swapped cleaning homes for sewing masks. The coronavirus pandemic has devastated sectors of the economy dominated by immigrant labor: Restaurants, hotels, office cleaning services, in-home childcare and hair and nail salons, among others, have seen businesses shuttered as nonessential. The Migration Policy Institute found that 20% of the U.S. workers in vulnerable industries facing layoffs are immigrants, even though they only make up 17% of the civilian workforce. And some of those immigrants, those without social security numbers, are unable to access any of the $2.2 trillion package that Congress approved to offer financial help during the pandemic. The economic meltdown has forced many immigrants to branch out to new jobs or adapt skills to meet new demands generated by the virus. Those immigrants who are able to find new jobs say the possibility of catching the virus makes them nervous. “I wonder sometimes if I should quit because I don’t feel comfortable working, when the virus is everywhere,” said García, a former waiter who now works at the laundromat in Brooklyn selling


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