Resources for Undocumented Immigrants and their Families During COVID-19
At My Undocumented Life, we created a post that outlines some of the main challenges that immigrant families are currently experiencing and key steps that allies can take to provide support!
The California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA) put together a resource guide for undocumented immigrants living in California. It features information about workers’ rights, access to free food, financial assistance, and more. The guide is available in both Spanish and English.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refuge Rights (ICIRR) has compiled a list of resources for immigrant families in the state of Illinois. It includes information regarding public benefits, unemployment insurance, food security, and more. The guide is available in both Spanish and English.
Immigrants Rising, a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower undocumented young people, has created a resource list for undocumented immigrants in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics include coping with stress and fear, health access and guidance, connecting to free/low cost resources, legal rights, and supporting businesses. The guide is available in both English and Spanish.
Massachusetts Jobs With Justice has compiled a list of emergency relief funds available to all community members in the state of Massachusetts (regardless of their immigration status). The list is available in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic.
The New York State Youth Leadership Council (NYSLC) is compiling a list of resources available for undocumented immigrants in the state of New York. The guide includes information related to food, financial, educational, and health-related assistance.
CONTRIBUTE OR APPLY FOR DONATIONS
Undocumented immigrants across the country are experiencing a reduction in working hours or have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus, but many are not be able to access paid leave, unemployment, or federal financial assistance because of their immigration status.
- If you can, please consider donating to the following organizations providing emergency relief funds to undocumented community members.
- NOTE: If you are undocumented and could benefit from emergency relief funds, you can also check out the following links to obtain more information on how to apply!
805 UndocuFund: “The 805 UndocuFund is a collective effort [in California] among Ventura and Santa Barbara County-based grassroots organizations to assist local undocumented immigrant individuals and families who are excluded from federally funded safety net programs; that have been economically impacted by the loss of their homes, wages, and/or employment due to disasters in our community like wildfires, mudslides, and the coronavirus.”
Aliento: “Aliento, a nonprofit that advocates for undocumented students, has raised $25,000 to provide $500 in assistance to mixed-status families. Thank you AZ community for supporting our migrant communities.”
Association of Raza Educators: ARE “has established a relief fund to provide financial support of up to $1500 to families in San Diego County who have lost all or part of their income due to the coronavirus pandemic, and have been left out of government relief efforts.”
MassUndocuFund: “MassUndocuFund is a partnership among Massachusetts-based grassroots immigrant organizations and workers centers that have a solid reputation, strong track record, and are known to and trusted by many undocumented residents.”
NAKASEC: “This is a form to apply for NAKASEC’s Emergency Mutual Aid Fund. The request is for $500 in cash assistance. Please fill it out if you don’t qualify for existing government aid due to your immigration status.” Funding is available for undocumented folks across the country (regardless of where you live in the U.S.)
NYSYLC Emergency Funds for Undocumented Youth and Families: “The NYSYLC is the first undocumented, youth-led organization in New York. [NYSYLC is] working to raise funds to support undocumented youth and their families in New York City during the time of COVID-19.”
Oakland Undocumented Relief Fund: “Centro Legal de la Raza, along with community partners, created the Oakland Undocumented Relief Fund to provide critical support to immigrant Oakland workers who have lost their jobs and income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the aggressive public health measures necessary to combat the spread of this disease.”
Relief Fund in Washington State: “To support our community, the Washington Dream Coalition, in partnership with Scholarship Junkies, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network are fundraising through Scholarship Junkie’s 501(c)(3) GoFundMe and other avenues to provide emergency and preventative financial relief to undocumented individuals that are at financial risk.”
San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium: “The fund will provide grants of up to $500 to immigrants in San Diego who have lost all or part of their income due to the coronavirus pandemic.”
CALLS TO ACTION
“Open Letter to ICE From Medical Professionals Urging the Release of Individuals in Immigration Detention Given the Risk of COVID-19” – If you are a medical professional, consider adding your name to this letter to urge U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to release individuals and families from immigration detention while their legal cases are being processed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Trump Administration Must Automatically Renew DACA Permits Expiring in 2020 & Stop Attacks at the Supreme Court” – Consider signing this petition to join several organizations, including United We Dream, in urging the Trump administration to issue automatic renewals for DACA permits expiring in 2020 and withdraw the DACA case from the U.S. Supreme Court.
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES
At My Undocumented Life, we seek to provide resources for undocumented immigrants, not just in regards to educational opportunities and immigration news, but also our health. We have created this page where you can access information about health-related resources.
Immigrants Rising’s Virtual Wellness Gatherings: “Led by Liliana Campos, Immigrants Rising’s Mental Health Advocate, these virtual gatherings will convene experienced facilitators—psychologists, coaches, traditional healers—to guide undocumented individuals through interactive activities. Liliana will also share resources for participants to check out on their own throughout the week.” Meetings will be every Sunday and Wednesday from 5pm – 6pm Pacific Time.
Informed Immigrant’s Mental Health Guide: Informed Immigrant, a collective of immigrant-serving organizations, lawyers, technologists, and allies dedicated to working with the undocumented immigrant community, has created the guide: “Mental Health: Taking Care of Yourself and Loved Ones,” which has resources for caring for loved ones, finding emotional support, recognizing anxiety, and cultivating joy.
UCSF Mental Health Guide for Navigating COVID-19: The University of California Department of Psychiatry has compiled resources to support your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak. Resources include information about maintaining good sleep, reducing stress, how to talk to children about COVID-19, and tips for older adults living at home.
IMMIGRATION POLICY UPDATES
- USCIS is still processing DACA renewal applications!
- On March 30, 2020, USCIS announced that it “will reuse previously submitted biometrics in order to process valid I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) extensions due to the temporary closure of Application Support Centers (ASC) to the public in response to COVID-19. Applicants who had an appointment scheduled with an ASC after the March 18 closure or filed an I-765 extension will have their application processed using previously submitted biometrics. This will remain in effect until ASCs resume normal operations.”
For more information and updates from USCIS with regard to DACA, naturalization oath ceremonies, asylum applications, and more, please visit their official website: USCIS Response to Coronavirus
- On April 22, 2020, the Trump administration issued a proclamation to halt green cards for new arrivals who fall under several categories (the official full text can be accessed here: White House Proclamation on Immigration)
- Who is affected?
- This proclamation affects individuals outside of the U.S. who are petitioning for a green card.
- NOTE: According to the official text, this proclamation does not affect individuals who are:
- “(i) lawful permanent resident of the United States;
- (ii) seeking to enter the United States on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees; and any spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old of any such alien who are accompanying or following to join the alien;
- (iii) applying for a visa to enter the United States pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program;
- (iv) who is the spouse of a United States citizen;
- (v) who is under 21 years old and is the child of a United States citizen, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
- (vi) whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee;
- (vii) any member of the United States Armed Forces and any spouse and children of a member of the United States Armed Forces;
- (viii) seeking to enter the United States pursuant to a Special Immigrant Visa in the SI or SQ classification, subject to such conditions as the Secretary of State may impose, and any spouse and children of any such individual; or
- (ix) whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.”
- The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) estimates that this action will block approximately 26,000 green cards monthly (or 52,000 over the 60-day period). MPI further notes that “the [proclamation] is likely to have little practical effect in the short term as the State Department had already largely suspended in-person consular interviews for visa applicants as a result of #COVID19. The effect could be more significant if the executive order is extended beyond the pandemic and continues after regular government services resume.”
- Moreover, based on new research from Professor Tom Wong (UC San Diego), “the Trump administration may, indeed, be using the global COVID-19 pandemic as a guise to further change U.S. immigration policies, which in this case means effectively choking off access to our asylum system, as well as suspending immigration into the U.S.” Read the full research report here
The Effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Undocumented and Mixed-Status Families & How Allies Can Help
The current Covid-19 pandemic has severely compounded the issues affecting undocumented and mixed-status families including concerns about finances, employment, access to health care, and the threat of deportation. In this post, we detail some of the main challenges that immigrant families are currently experiencing and key steps that allies can take to provide support.
Like the millions of individuals across the country who have filed for unemployment in the recent weeks, undocumented immigrants and their loved ones are also losing their jobs or seeing a reduction in working hours due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many others with pre-existing health conditions are also fearful of continuing to expose themselves at work (often times without adequate access to Personal Protective Equipment, paid leave, hazard pay, or health insurance coverage).
Despite these circumstances, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for most forms of financial assistance. Without a legal immigration status, undocumented community members do not qualify for federal unemployment benefits. The Trump administration also decided to exclude undocumented immigrants and their spouses from the Covid-19 stimulus checks and is preventing undocumented college students from accessing emergency aid.
Several organizations across the country such as the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and New York State Youth Leadership Council (NYSYLC) are providing critical financial assistance to undocumented folks (for an up-to-date list of emergency aid funds available, check this post).
How Allies Can Help
Organizations like Cosecha are also asking folks who have the financial means to pledge part of their stimulus checks to support undocumented immigrants.
Allies can support in the following ways: (1) donating to these organizations; (2) spreading the word about these funds; (3) helping to crowdsource funds within your network; (4) volunteering with local immigrant rights groups to collect/distribute emergency aid; and (5) urging the federal/state/local governments to support undocumented immigrants and their loved ones.
In addition to the financial strain that undocumented and mixed-status families are experiencing, many are also affected by inadequate access to health services. Insurance coverage remains largely limited to those who have access to a legal immigration status or a stable/high income. Many families may also hesitate to seek medical care because of the fear of deportation.
Allies can support families access health services in a number of ways, including: (1) identifying a list of local community clinics and licensed therapists that provide physical/mental health care to those without insurance; (2) offering to call the clinic in advance to ensure eligibility; (3) offering families a ride to see a doctor; (4) sharing a list of resources available to all regardless of immigration status; and (5) providing emotional support for family members.
It is also important to keep in mind that families are experiencing increased feelings of fear, stress, and anxiety as the fate of DACA remains uncertain and concerns about changes in immigration policy under the current administration intensify—a reality that is compounded by the fear of being apprehended, losing one’s employment, experiencing food insecurity, and coping with pre-existing medical conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is imperative that allies check-in with families with questions such as:
(1) Is there anything I can be of help with? (2) Can I help you look into food banks, updates on DACA, DACA renewal assistance, or anything else? (3) Do you need a ride to the clinic, grocery store, laundry mat, etc? (4) Do you want to talk over the phone? (5) Do you need me to make calls anywhere (e.g., to a clinic, lawyer, therapist, social service provider, etc)? (6) Do you have enough to cover rent, food, and other essentials this month? I am here for you.
These check-ins can act as powerful reminders that undocumented folks and their loved ones are not alone. These steps can also help lessen some of the burden that immigration policies and enforcement practices impose on families.
Families where a loved one is currently inside a detention center, undergoing deportation proceedings, or is living outside of the U.S. post-deportation are also largely coping in isolation with growing fears about the spread of the coronavirus in detention centers or abroad.
(1) Allies can provide direct support to families by offering emotional and financial support; (2) joining efforts calling for the immediate release of detained migrants; (3) supporting an ongoing campaign to stop a community member’s deportation proceedings (or helping start a campaign); and (4) volunteering with local immigrant rights groups currently providing legal and financial assistance to immigrant families directly impacted by enforcement practices.
It is also very important to continue our advocacy efforts across the country to ensure undocumented immigrants obtain health care access, expanded access to opportunities (e.g., driver’s licenses, higher education), work authorization, and relief from deportation. The New York Immigration Coalition has outlined several key steps that the local, state, and federal governments can take to support immigrant families, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are many ways that allies can support families during these unsettling and challenging times. Be sure to comment below to share your ideas with others!
May 5, 2020
“U.S. Citizen Children with Undocumented Parents Unfairly Denied Coronavirus relief, federal lawsuit asserts” (The Washington Post) – “Legal advocates at Georgetown University Law Center filed a constitutional challenge Tuesday on behalf of millions of children who are U.S. citizens and have been denied $500 coronavirus economic relief payments because one or both of their parents are undocumented immigrants.”
April 28, 2020
“Harris County creates $15M pandemic relief fund aimed at most vulnerable residents” (Houston Chronicle) – “Low-income families, residents in the country [undocumented], victims of domestic violence and children aging out of foster care are the target audience for a $15 million coronavirus relief fund Harris County Commissioners Court created Tuesday.”
April 22, 2020
“Data study questions motives behind Trump immigration policies during pandemic” (The San Diego Union-Tribune) – “A report published on Wednesday by UC San Diego’s Tom Wong found that there is no evidence that more immigration or border crossings are correlated with more influenza cases”
April 21, 2020
“DeVos Blocks DACA Students From Coronavirus Emergency Grant Aid” (Forbes) – “DeVos chose to limit the students eligible for the grant aid to those eligible for federal student financial aid — meaning U.S. citizens and some noncitizens. This means that undocumented immigrants participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program—also known as DACA—created in the Obama Administration will not be eligible for these emergency grants.”
April 20, 2020
“In Victory for Detained Migrants, Federal Judge Orders ICE to Review for Release Every Person with COVID-19 Risk Factors” (SPLC) – “A federal judge has ordered ICE “to conduct new assessments for every person at heightened risk of contracting Covid-19 in the custody of ICE, regardless of immigration case”
April 17, 2020
“Immigration Detainees Launch Hunger Strike As Outbreak Grows at Otay Mesa Detention Center” (KPBS) – “Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday $125 million in disaster relief assistance for working Californians that will provide financial support to undocumented immigrants impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.”
April 16, 2020
“Mayor de Blasio announces New York City COVID-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief Program with Open Society Foundations” (NYC) – “Mayor de Blasio today announced a partnership with Open Society Foundations to establish the New York City COVID-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief program, reaffirming the City’s commitment to ensure all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, are included in citywide COVID-19 response and relief efforts. This $20 million donation marks an essential step to provide emergency monetary relief to immigrant workers and their families, who have largely been excluded from federal COVID-19 relief programs.”
“We All Stay Home’: No Work and No Stimulus Checks for Undocumented Family in U.S.” (Reuters) – “In Fresno, California, 58-year-old grandmother Maria Luisa Salazar shares a mobile home with her family of 11. Afraid that going to work would put them at risk of the coronavirus, she has stopped working and is staying at home.”
April 15, 2020
“California is the first state to offer unauthorized immigrants financial relief during the coronavirus pandemic” (Business Insider) – “ Unauthorized immigrants living in California are set to receive coronavirus-related financial aid, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.”
“Mayor de Blasio Announces New York City COVID19 Immigrant Emergency Relief Program with Open Society Foundations” (NYC) – “Mayor de Blasio today announced a partnership with Open Society Foundations to establish the New York City COVID-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief program, reaffirming the City’s commitment to ensure all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, are included in citywide COVID-19 response and relief efforts. This $20 million donation marks an essential step to provide emergency monetary relief to immigrant workers and their families, who have largely been excluded from federal COVID-19 relief programs.”
April 14, 2020
“75% of migrants deported to Guatemala on single flight tested positive for coronavirus: Health minister” (ABC News) – “Guatemala, along with El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico, has urged the U.S. to halt removals and deportations or take other steps to stop the virus’ spread from the U.S., now the epicenter of the pandemic.”
“Garcetti Announces Prepaid Debit Card Program for Low-Income Angelenos Struggling in the Wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic” (MSN News) – “Low-income residents of Los Angeles and those with incomes negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic will soon have another opportunity for financial relief through the city’s Angeleno Fund.”
April 13, 2020
“The Risks Undocumented Workers are Facing During the COVID-19 Pandemic” (The New Yorker) – “Sheltering in place, a public-health necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic, is a luxury rarely afforded to the working classes. For millions of Americans, staying at home has meant losing their job—or jobs—and struggling to feed their children, pay their rent, and cover the bills. For E.C., an undocumented maintenance worker from Guatemala, it has also meant being unable to rely on the government’s relief aid, despite having paid taxes and living in the United States for more than two decades. If he is stricken with the disease, the question for him won’t be when to seek medical attention but whether to seek it at all—he’ll have to carefully weigh the risks of going bankrupt, facing deportation, or being detained and separated from his family.”
April 7, 2020
“Mayor Lightfoot’s order gives immigrants access to Chicago’s coronavirus relief” (WGN9) – “Chicago immigrants who do not have legal status in the U.S. are eligible for all relief programs run by the city amid the coronavirus outbreak, Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered Tuesday.”
April 4, 2020
“Undocumented workers among those hit first—and worst—by coronavirus shutdown” (The Washington Post) – “The collapse of the U.S. economy brought about by the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the extreme vulnerabilities of millions of undocumented workers like Cano, who are disproportionately employed in industries undergoing mass layoffs as well as high-risk jobs that keep society running while many Americans self-isolate at home.”
March 31, 2020
“Colorado urges automatic extension of DACA authorizations during pandemic” (The Denver Post) – “Gov. Jared Polis sent a letter Tuesday urging the federal government to automatically extend work authorizations set to expire this year for all Deferred Action Childhood Arrival recipients, citing the coronavirus pandemic.”
March 30, 2020
“Deadly Consequences of ‘Business as Usual’ and Immigration Enforcement” (Youth Circulations) – “As COVID-19 rapidly advances across the country, local justice systems are focusing their resources on essential services. Police and prosecutors are focusing on violent crimes, detainees are being released, and criminal courts are prioritizing the most serious criminal offenses. These efforts reflect a commitment to saving both lives and taxpayer dollars through the pandemic. Meanwhile, U.S. immigration systems are operating under the status quo, with devastating consequences.”
March 27, 2020
“Coronavirus Relief Package Fails to Provide Aid to Millions of Immigrants, Including Many on the Front Lines” (Immigration Impact) – “Only those with a Social Security number who have a green card or are “resident aliens” will qualify. This includes people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status Temporary Protected Status (TPS). But many people who meet these prerequisites will still be disqualified from receiving cash payments if they have a spouse or child who does not have a valid Social Security number.”
“Dreamers’ Tell Supreme Court Ending DACA During Pandemic Would Be ‘Catastrophic” (New York Times) – “About 27,000 of the young undocumented immigrants who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program work in health care, many of them on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus.”
“EEUU ‘nos necesita mas que nunca’ dice un dreamer paramedico que atiende enfermos de COVID-19” (Univision) – “Miles de beneficiarios del programa DACA están ahora en la primera línea enfrentando al coronavirus. Los más expuestos son doctores, enfermeros y personal médico. Jesús Contreras es uno de ellos.”
“Judge Orders ICE to Immediately Release At-Risk Detainees at Facilities with COVID-19” (Newsweek) – “A federal judge ordered the immediate release of 10 detainees, held by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and considered vulnerable to the coronavirus, who are waylaid at three correctional facilities in New Jersey where there have been confirmed cases of COVID-19.”
March 26, 2020
“3 migrant children in U.S. custody test positive for coronavirus” (CBS News) – “Three unaccompanied migrant children in U.S. government custody have tested positive for the coronavirus, federal officials said Thursday, highlighting concerns among advocates about the vulnerability of detained immigrants during the global pandemic.”
March 25, 2020
“Maybe if I had Papers, It Would Have Been Different’: Undocumented During a Pandemic” (The Nation) – “Until he was laid off last week, Raúl worked as a busboy in a restaurant in Queens. He came to this country to help support his family in Mexico, and with his restaurant work, he was able to send back regular payments. He shared a small apartment with his brother and another friend, and put in a lot of hours. When the coronavirus started popping up in the news, he and his coworkers were nervous—both about the virus itself, and about the possible economic impact. For service-sector employees, working from home is not an option. “I couldn’t just stop working,” Raúl, who is undocumented, said. “I needed money for transportation, for rent, for all the basics, and… New York is so expensive.”
March 21, 2020
“Growing Calls To Close Immigration Courts And Release Detainees As Virus Spreads” (NPR) – “U.S. authorities face growing calls to shutter all of the nation’s immigration courts, and to release detained immigrants who do not pose a threat to public safety after an ICE detention center worker tested positive for the coronavirus.”
March 16, 2020
“ACLU Sues ICE for Release of Immigrants Especially Vulnerable to COVID-19” (ACLU) – “The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Washington, and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) sued U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement today on behalf of immigrants detained at the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington. The legal organizations seek the release of people who are in civil detention and are at high risk for serious illness or death in the event of COVID-19 infection. The determination is based on the age of detainees, as well as their underlying medical conditions, which public health experts have indicated will increase the risk of serious COVID-19 infection.”
March 13, 2020
“ICE is ignoring a simple way to slow the spread of Coronavirus: Let people out of detention” (MotherJones) – “Last week, a Cuban asylum seeker called me from a for-profit jail in Louisiana to express the same fear shared by people across the world. The man, whom I’ll call Alberto to protect him from potential retaliation, had more reason to worry about the coronavirus than most: He was detained in a crowded room alongside nearly 100 others at a jail run by LaSalle Corrections, a company with a long record of providing shoddy medical care. ‘If coronavirus gets in here,’ he said, ‘it’s going to be a massacre.’”