Giving Compass’ Take:
• In this report, organizations serving immigrant families during COVID-19 expose the economic barriers preventing communities from accessing support for their basic needs.
• How do legal obstacles disproportionately bar immigrant communities from receiving equitable support during COVID-19? What can you do to help organizations serve immigrant families during COVID?
• Read more about the disparate health effects facing immigrant workers during COVID.
The economic and financial challenges surrounding the COVID-19 crisis are disproportionately affecting many immigrant workers and families across the US. An array of barriers, such as program eligibility rules and lack of language access, put federal, state, and local relief programs out of reach for many families. Community-based organizations serving immigrants with low incomes are on the front lines to support these families and fill the gaps in many government initiatives. But these organizations must deal with the challenges that the COVID-19 crisis imposes on their own staff and capabilities and with chilling effects that may discourage immigrant families from accepting support. In this brief, we provide perspectives from organizations across the country that serve these families, sharing their view on what is happening in immigrant communities; what federal, state, and local response efforts have and have not done to support immigrant families; and how their organizations have taken action to respond to this crisis.
We partnered with the Protecting Immigrant Families, Advancing Our Future campaign, which is co-chaired by the National Immigration Law Center and the Center for Law and Social Policy, to gather national information on the immigrant-serving field during the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis. We analyzed grant materials submitted by organizations to the PIF campaign in late April 2020 and fielded an online survey to applicants in early June to capture what was happening among immigrant-serving organizations.
We found that because of the economic crisis, organizations across the country are seeing an increase in unmet basic needs, such as cash, food, and housing, in the immigrant communities they serve. Forty percent of survey respondents reported cash as either the first or second most pressing need among immigrant families, followed by food (38 percent), employment (37 percent), and housing (31 percent).
Despite these urgent needs, chilling effects caused by fear of the public charge rule and
immigration enforcement continue to deter immigrant families from accessing available services and
supports they need, including new pandemic-specific relief.