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How to Get Help and Give Help for Undocumented Immigrants During the Pandemic

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Earlier this week, California governor Gavin Newsom created an unprecedented $125 million fund for undocumented immigrants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the sate. With it, undocumented immigrants who have lost their job or are struggling financially will be eligible for a one-time benefit that will provide $500 of support per adult, with a cap of $1,000 per household.

“We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportation but are still addressing the essential needs of tens of millions of Californians,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said as he announced the new fund on Wednesday, “and that’s why I’m proud as governor to be the very first state to announce a program for direct disaster assistance to those individuals.”

According to a Pew Research Center study, 49 percent of surveyed Latinx Americans say that they or someone in their household has taken a pay cut or lost a job because of the COVID-19 outbreak, compared with 33 percent of all US adults. And, even though the initiative is bound to help about 150 thousand of the more than 2 million undocumented workers in California, other states have not been as generous with the immigrant population, and federal benefits like unemployment disability and even the stimulus checks don’t apply to them. That is why undocumented workers are largely relying on private organizations and charitable donations to get through these hard times.  

Cities have also made programs available for undocumented immigrants:

  • Minneapolis will create a $5 million forgivable loan program to help renters and small businesses, available regardless of immigration status. 
  • Chicago is ensuring that all benefits, opportunities, and services provided or administered by the City are accessible to all residents, regardless of birth country or current citizenship status.
  • Oakland  and Los Angeles will provide direct financial support, in the form of checks or prepaid debit cards, to some undocumented community members affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some organizations that are lending a hand that are welcoming donations:

National Domestic Workers Alliance

Their Coronavirus Care Fund seeks to provide emergency assistance for domestic workers enabling them to stay home and healthy. Additionally, their organization works with a wide range of groups and individuals to provide support and give a voice to the domestic workers in the U.S.

Qualifying applicants who are experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic can receive $400 in emergency assistance from the Fund.

You can donate here


Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a nonprofit organization fighting to improve wages and working conditions for the nation’s restaurant workforce, is providing resources and financial assistance to restaurant workers impacted by the coronavirus crisis regardless of their legal status. 

You can donate here

Freedom For Immigrants

Currently, there are more than 39,000 immigrants being held in detention centers with little to no protection from the coronavirus. Freedom for Immigrants, an organization that has long fought for immigrant’s rights, helps release immigrants in detention centers who aren’t able to afford their own bail, which might help slow down the COVID-19 spread within the centers. 

You can donate here.

The Betancourt-Macias Family Scholarship Foundation 

The Betancourt-Macias Family Scholarship Foundation was founded to support the educational endeavors of undocumented people,” but now, they have created an emergency fund to help undocumented families and individuals impacted by the pandemic. 

You can donate here.

Other ways to help

Every state has local organizations devoted to help immigrants of all legal status in their community. Here, you can find a list with organizations in every state that provides resources to undocumented immigrants. 

Some people don’t feel comfortable donating to big organizations. So, for those who feel more comfortable with standalone campaigns, there are many GoFundMe campaigns, like this one, to help undocumented communities. 

Adversely, during times of crisis, money can become tight for most households. However, there are still ways you can help undocumented immigrants that doesn’t necessarily involve money. Millions of undocumented immigrants are disproportionately employed in essential industries including high-risk jobs that keep society running. Making masks and donating them (or donating spares that you already have) can also be a way to help not only undocumented immigrants, but thousands of first line workers that put their lives on the line every day. 

Alexandra Tirado Oropeza is a Venezuelan journalist covering politics, immigration, entertainment and social justice. She moved to the U.S. in 2014 to pursue a Writing degree at The University of Tampa, and after graduating, she moved to Los Angeles where she works in broadcast and as a freelance writer. She’s passionate about equality, freedom of speech, art and dogs.