Integration in the time of COVID-19

More than half of the United States is under shelter-in-place orders and practicing physical distancing measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands are juggling various priorities at once, while some are anxiety ridden due to loss of employment and others risk their health working to support their families and communities during these uncertain times.

While efforts at the federal level intend to secure and support families through the CARES Act, immigrants have fallen through the cracks. According to the ACLU, “there are three major ways in which immigrants were left behind in the CARES Act: testing and care, cash rebates, and unemployment insurance. Immigrants are serving so many vital roles at the frontlines of our recovery from COVID-19, including the 1.7 million immigrant medical and health care workers caring for COVID-19 patients and the 27,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients working as doctors, nurses, and paramedics.”

At the local level, nonprofits and other community-based programs have been working around the clock to convert their services to virtual platforms while creating new, additional resources for the immigrant community. Local officials in Minneapolis created a $5 million relief package available to eligible families regardless of immigration status. The mayor of Chicago is also taking a stance to protect its immigrant community after signing an executive order to ensure immigrants and refugees have access to the city’s COVID-19 relief aid.

CLINIC affiliates in Washington state, Kansas, and North Carolina are also jumping into action to ensure the immigrants are receiving the same access to services and information. La Casa Hogar and Nuestra Casa of Washington state joined forces to organize their immigrant and Latinx communities. The majority of their Spanish-speaking community were not receiving information on shelter-in-place orders. Together, they created COVID-19 updates in Spanish. Their outreach efforts utilized T.V. and radio to ensure everyone received the same message.

Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas took to YouTube to address the concerns of its community. People spoke out, expressing the fear that ICE agents would use this opportunity to target and detain them, preventing many from seeking medical assistance. Like other organizations, Catholic Charities dedicated COVID-19 resources on their website.

Church World Service of Greensboro, N.C., continues to socialize with their community members through WhatsApp and a community Facebook group. Their community organizers reach out to see how those they serve are dealing with COVID-19 and take time to encourage census participation.

People outside of organizational structures are also coming together to build support one during the pandemic. In Montgomery County, Md., volunteers created Unbreakable Community, connecting neighbors to provide non-urgent community support to one another during the current crisis. Now more than ever, people should be working together to ensure that everyone, regardless of immigration status, has equal access to information, services and relief.

CLINIC applauds our affiliates and the individuals that are working together to promote integration and safety while we overcome COVID-19. Want to be featured in our next monthly highlight? Share with us what unique integration efforts are occurring in your neighborhood.