$20 Million In COVID-19 Relief Funds For Immigrant Workers & Families

$20 Million In COVID-19 Relief Funds For Immigrant Workers & Families

BROOKLYN – All New Yorkers, regardless of their immigration status, are now included in citywide COVID-19 response and relief efforts. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $20 million fund that will assist 20,000 immigrant workers and their families with direct, one-time emergency relief.

Last week, stimulus checks from the federal government were sent out to U.S. citizens or U.S. residents who have a social security number. This does not account for the 7.6 million Americans who are undocumented or the 4.3 million of whom pay taxes using a taxpayer identification number. So, de Blasio teamed up with billionaire George Soros, whose organization, Open Society Foundations, will be funding the $20 million for emergency relief.

“Immigrants are the heart of this City – they are our friends, neighbors, and colleagues,” de Blasio said. “This crisis has shown it is now more important than ever for New Yorkers to look out for each other. I want to thank the Open Society Foundations for partnering with us to ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of their documentation status, can get the support they need.”

The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City will be creating a network of community-based organizations that will provide relief to families in need. The network will also be responsible for assisting people with information on other forms and resources such as SNAP, cash assistance, or emergency food delivery programs. This initial funding will reach up to 20,000 undocumented workers and their families, the Mayor’s office said. It will go as follows:

  • $400/individual
  • $800 for a couple or single parent with children
  • $1,000 for a family with multiple adults and children
  • And/or where identified increased additional supports

According to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs’ Annual Report in 2019, there were over 127,000 reported undocumented immigrants in Brooklyn alone. There was a total of 477,000 undocumented immigrants in all of NYC. And approximately 56.2% of immigrant New Yorkers were naturalized U.S. citizens.

Graph from MOIA’s Annual Report.

“COVID-19 does not discriminate, but for immigrants, often working on the frontline of this crisis, it is a hardship multiplier for them and their families. We must make sure that everyone in our city, regardless of immigration status, has access to the support they need,” First Lady Chirlane McCray said. “Immigrant New Yorkers are our neighbors, loved ones, and community members. We value and depend on them, and we want them to know that their City will not leave them behind.”I

Additionally, in 2019, foreign-born New Yorkers, including the undocumented population, contributed about $232 billion to the City’s GDP, the Mayor’s office noted. And among the one million essential workers who are on the frontlines of the pandemic, half are immigrants. Plus, over a third of NYC’s undocumented workforce are low income and are ineligible for most safety net assistance. Which all makes this fund vital for those who need to survive.

“Immigrant communities, including undocumented families, have been gravely and disproportionally impacted by COVID-19, but left out of federal stimulus relief. There can be no serious effort to address this moment and this tremendous gap in equity without connecting our fellow New Yorkers to the care and resources they need, regardless of their immigration status,” Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of MOIA said.

“We are grateful to the Open Society Foundations for this partnership—a critical part of our efforts to support and empower immigrant families who need it most. We hope to build on the Immigrant Emergency Relief Fund Program in New York City and we urge our state and federal counterparts to follow suit and ensure that some of the country’s most essential, and most vulnerable, communities are protected.”