People Helping People: Relief for Immigrants

Immigrant Family Fund

Solidarity efforts across the country help immigrants barred from official government relief programs. Federal programs bar undocumented immigrants (and their U.S. citizen spouses and children) from COVID-19 relief benefits, even though these immigrants pay taxes. Some have lived, worked, and paid taxes in the United States for decades.

In Minnesota, the MN Immigrant Families COVID-19 Fund has raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars to support “immigrant families who don’t qualify for local, state or federal support,  and for those who, because of COVID-19, may be pushed even deeper into the shadows with little or few resources available to meet their immediate needs.” The fundraising is a collaborative effort with Asamblea de Derechos Civiles- St Cloud Chapter, Asian American Organizing Project (AAOP), Awood Center, Black Immigrant Collective (BIC), Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), ISAIAH, Navigate MN and National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) St. Cloud chapter and Release MN8. Yes, you can still donate, and donations are tax-deductible.

The South Dakota Dream Coalition started a statewide fund to help immigrant households there.

In Maine, the focus is on farm workers:

“Mano en Mano, an organization based in Milbridge that provides education and advocacy for Maine agricultural and aquaculture workers, began raising money for the Estamos Aqui Mutual Aid Fund last month. To date, the group has raised more than $80,000, with more than half the funds coming from grants from Maine nonprofit foundations.

“As of Wednesday, Mano en Mano had distributed the funds directly to 363 out-of-work farm workers and their families, many of whom are migrant workers, for emergency assistance to meet needs such as food, rent and utilities during the coronavirus pandemic.”

California is offering state assistance through its own stimulus fund program, beginning on Monday, May 18. This is the first state government program to offer help.

As the pandemic continues, these efforts and others like them embody the spirit ofPresident Barack Obama’s commencement address:

“And finally, build a community. No one does big things by themselves. Right now, when people are scared, it’s easy to be cynical and say let me just look out for myself, or my family, or people who look or think or pray like me. But if we’re going to get through these difficult times; if we’re going to create a world where everybody has the opportunity to find a job, and afford college; if we’re going to save the environment and defeat future pandemics, then we’re going to have to do it together. So be alive to one another’s struggles. Stand up for one another’s rights. Leave behind all the old ways of thinking that divide us — sexism, racial prejudice, status, greed — and set the world on a different path.”

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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