How COVID-19 Affects Immigrants and How You Can Help
10 Things You Might Not Know About Immigrants and COVID-19
- Some 8.2 million US citizens who live in mixed-status households, many of whom are children, will not be able to access desperately needed cash relief. That is because the CARES Act stipulates that, exempting households which include someone who has served in the US military, only households in which everyone has a Social Security Number will receive government cash support.
- Immigrants who desperately need services and benefits for which they are eligible may still have great difficulty accessing them without help. Many forms are only available in English, and even those which are translated into other languages can be difficult to understand. HIAS Pennsylvania is working hard to make sure that our clients have access to these life-sustaining supports.
- The Supreme Court, which continues to meet remotely, is currently set to decide the fate of US residents covered by DACA by June. HIAS PA is reaching out to all our DACA clients to make sure their legal status, which must be renewed every two years, is current. This will give them vital time to figure out their next steps if the Court affirms the Trump administration’s right to abolish the program.
- The UNHCR Refugee Resettlement Program is temporarily suspended. Many families fleeing violence and oppression remain abroad, stuck in refugee camps or otherwise difficult living conditions.
- Other countries have found ways to protect the health of immigrants – and everyone else who might have contact with an immigrant. Portugal, for instance, has given migrants and asylum seekers full citizenship rights during the pandemic, ensuring them access to the country’s healthcare system.
- COVID-19 testing is free for everyone, including noncitizens, and ICE has stopped raids near hospitals. Unfortunately many noncitizens are not getting testing and treatment because they remain convinced doing so will adversely affect their immigration status.
- There has already been one case of a deported person from Guatemala testing positive for coronavirus just days after being deported. The event has sparked fears that deportation flights out of the United States could quicken the spread of COVID-19 in other parts of the world.
- The Remain in Mexico Policy and other policies of the Trump administration have contributed to poor health conditions on the US Mexico border, which could exacerbate the spread of COVID-19.
- While some court procedures are being suspended, hearings for migrants in detention are proceeding as normal. Because of the social distancing requirements, all hearings are being conducted by video-conferencing – a method of conducting hearings that studies have found to violate due process.
- Hate crimes against Asian Americans as well as Asian immigrants are on the rise across the country due to the COVID-19. Fear is keeping many vulnerable Asian immigrants housebound.
You Can Help
- Volunteer with HIAS Pennsylvania to bring groceries to vulnerable immigrant and refugee families. Sign up here
- Donate to HIAS Pennsylvania’s Immigrant Relief Fund to provide direct cash assistance to the most vulnerable immigrants, along with the support we need for case managers to help them navigate the crisis.
- 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.
- Donate items to support Philadelphia’s homeless population by giving in-kind to Project Home. You can view their list of current needs here.
- Educate yourself and others by inviting a HIAS PA speaker to your next virtual event. Just fill out our partnership request form!
- Support local stores and their employees, many of whom are immigrants or refugees, by buying gift cards to those businesses that have had to close due to the coronavirus crisis.
- 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.
- Consider donating blood. The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage. Visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
- Take care of your neighbors, your loved ones, and yourself. Many of us are struggling with the uncertainty of the Coronavirus pandemic. Check in often with others in your life, and be sure to practice self care during this time.
- 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.