How COVID-19 Affects Immigrants and How You Can Help

10 Things You Might Not Know About Immigrants and COVID-19

  1. The three stimulus packages excluded undocumented immigrants, and the first two packages even excluded US citizens that were part of mixed-status families
  2. The Biden Administration is still turning away asylum-seeking families at the border, supposedly due to public health concerns, although many health care experts have argued that turning away asylum seekers will do little to curb the pandemic.
  3. Immigrants have formed the backbone of many essential jobs during the pandemic, including our agricultural workers and food packers (bringing food to our grocery stores),  health workers, and other front-line workers.
  4. Immigrants are 50% more likely than native-born Americans to contract COVID-19, mainly due to the fact that they are much more likely to be front-line workers.
  5. The UNHCR Refugee Resettlement Program has only slowly reopened. In order to apply for a green card (one year after arrival), all refugees are required to comply with vaccination guidelines. The CDC/Department of State Vaccination Program for US bound refugees works to provide vaccinations to refugees before they arrive in the US. 
  6. Biden has reversed the expansion of the Public Charge Rule that scared many immigrants from accessing public safety net services (even when eligible). Immigrants were even afraid to access COVID-19 services, like testing and treatment, for fear of the public charge rule. Even though the rule has changed, it will take time for immigrants to trust that they can access services that might be life-saving.
  7. Last year’s policies of deportation and detention of immigrants worsened the pandemic. For example, a deported person from Guatemala testing positive for coronavirus just days after being deported. 22,096 individuals in detention have contracted COVID-19, and at least eight individuals have died. 
  8. Remote learning has been especially difficult for families who are not fluent English speakers, as not only students, but parents, struggle to understand changing policies. HIAS Pennsylvania’s education team has worked hard to support our clients, and advocated for Philadelphia School District changes, like hiring a Swahili Bilingual Counseling Assistant in order to help overcome the language gap.
  9. Language access can be one of the major hindrances in accessing the COVID vaccines. HIAS PA has been working with agencies across the city to make sure that language access does not prevent our clients from receiving a vaccine. 
  10. After finally being able to apply for first time DACA status in December 2020, a new lawsuit in Texas has once against stopped USCIS from accepting new DACA applicants.

10 Ways
You Can Help

  1. Volunteer with HIAS Pennsylvania to mentor immigrant children who struggled with remote learning. Sign up here
  2. Donate to HIAS Pennsylvania to provide case management services to help immigrants hit hardest by the pandemic (from being unemployed to dealing with the effects of long-COVID).
  3. Support an immigrant-owned restaurant.
  4. Volunteer with the City of Philadelphia, which is looking for healthy individuals to volunteer with the Medical Reserve Corps. Read more and sign up here.
  5. Donate items to support Philadelphia’s homeless population by giving in-kind to Project Home. You can view their list of current needs here
  6. Educate yourself and others by inviting a HIAS PA speaker to your next virtual event. Just fill out our partnership request form!
  7. Continue to ask Senators and Representatives to shut down detention facilities immediately. These are prisons for immigrants. They don’t have adequate health care, they are often overcrowded and they expose immigrants and prison staff to the virus and prison staff then carry the virus back to their communities. There is no need to continue spending money on these facilities when money is desperately needed to help the numbers of persons who are out of work because of the virus. Ankle bracelet monitoring is and has been sufficient.
  8. Consider donating blood. The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage. Visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
  9. Take care of your neighbors, your loved ones, and yourself. The future continues to be uncertain–be there for one another!
  10. Sign up for our mailing list so you know the facts, when to contact your elected officials with timely advocacy, and what other actions you can take.