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NYC Creates $20 million COVID-19 Fund for Undocumented Immigrants

Mayor Bill de Blasio (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

April 17, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

The city has joined forces with a prominent foundation to create a new COVID-19 relief program for undocumented immigrants that will see some families receive up to $1,000, Mayor Bill De Blasio has announced.

The Open Society, a progressive philanthropic foundation, has donated $20 million to the city and together they have formed the COVID-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief program. The fund will provide one-time payments to undocumented immigrants workers who have suffered economic hardship due to the coronavirus and who have been excluded from the federal bailout.

Up to 20,000 undocumented workers and their families will receive direct, one-time payments from the fund. The fund will provide $1,000 for a family with children; $800 to couples–or a single parent with children; and $400 will be available to single adults.

“Immigrants are the heart of this city – they are our friends, neighbors and colleagues,” de Blasio de Blasio said Thursday.

“This crisis has shown it is now more important than ever for New Yorkers to look out for each other,” he said.

There are around 360,000 undocumented workers and 48,000 undocumented business owners in New York City, according to the mayor’s office.

Undocumented immigrants are not eligible to receive relief under the recent $2 trillion federal stimulus plan, which saw payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child given to low-and-middle income Americans and green card holders.

The mayor said that the Immigrant Emergency Relief program will contribute to ensuring that all New Yorkers get the financial support they need, regardless of their immigration status.

Money from the fund will be disseminated through a network of community-based organizations and work centers – although it is unclear what the criteria will be to qualify for payment.

This network will also help immigrants sign up for other forms of relief like unemployment, SNAP, cash assistance, or emergency food delivery programs, the mayor’s press office said.

“This crisis has laid bare just how much we depend on low-wage workers who stock our grocery shelves, harvest and deliver our food, staff society’s essential services,” Open Society President Patrick Gaspard said.

Open Society is one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the world and was founded by billionaire businessman George Soros.

The foundation has also committed to providing $15 million to the New York City Fund for Public Schools to help families of essential frontline workers. These funds will be used for emergency childcare support and to help young and school-age children with remote learning.

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