Our undocumented community is at great risk during the COVID-19 outbreak. Because they may not have access to government relief, many are faced with putting themselves in danger of contracting the disease by working without protections or benefits. Photo by Timur Saglambilek from Pexels.
The majority of undocumented workers don’t have access to government aid, making them extremely vulnerable to both the health and economic threat of COVID-19.
On March 27, the federal government passed a $2 trillion stimulus package aimed to ease the economic hardships faced by millions of workers and businesses. The package allows financial relief in a check or direct deposit of up to $1,200 for many American adults. But those who are undocumented, often working in the food and hospitality industries hit hardest by social distancing efforts, won’t see any of that relief money.
In the last few weeks, efforts to stop the spread coronavirus have hurt various industries and left employees wondering about their job safety. For them, the relief money and other support programs are well received. “I know those programs and support are for Americans. They are not for us,” said one undocumented woman in Massachusetts.
Those who still have jobs in public increase their chances of contracting the coronavirus. If they do happen to get sick, many won’t benefit from worker’s rights or protections, like paid time off, that would allow them to stay at home.
So, what can undocumented people do to protect their health and livelihood? For Spanish-speakers in California, The Oakland Reporter compiled a list of resources for undocumented Communities facing COVID-19. And UndocuScholars created an extensive list of nationwide resources as well. Here are some of these resources:
- Before the coronavirus became our nation’s main focus, the Trump administration passed a rule that would prevent immigrants from applying for public benefits, like Medicaid, if they wanted to obtain a green card. It’s important for undocumented immigrants to know that this ‘Public Charge’ rule does NOT apply to coronavirus testing and treatment.
- There are low-cost or free clinics across the country that will treat undocumented people.
- Federal immigration officials have said they will not conduct routine enforcement operations at or near health-care facilities such as hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices during the coronavirus crisis.
- There’s information about the virus in Spanish for those who aren’t sure about the precautions they need to take at home and in public.
- Legal Aid at Work provides clarity about Undocumented Workers’ Employment Rights, as well as a list of Coronavirus frequently asked questions (and answers) in English and also Spanish.
- California Labor Commissioner’s Office released FAQs on COVID-19 and Laws Enforced in English and Spanish
- Check out this aggregated list of COVID-19 & Freelancer Resources of free resources, opportunities, and financial relief options available to artists of all disciplines.
- Workers with DACA have different benefits depending on which state they live. But some DACA recipients may be able to get financial assistance for their status renewals and access other resources, they are encouraged to check with their local immigrant rights organizations.
Common questions about the qualifications of DACA recipients for public benefits. Credit: UndocuScholars
- Inclusive Action for the City has created the Street Vendor Emergency Fund for Los Angeles vendors who cannot access assistance from the government.
- Find out how to support in-home care workers, nannies, and house cleaners during this crisis with these tools from the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
- Immigrants Rising’s KickStarter Grants offer short-term, non-renewable grants.
- Relief Funds For Undocumented Workers In California (available in English and Spanish).
- And there’s also this guide to support artists, performers, and service industry folks during Coronavirus.