Advocates Denounce Exclusion of Millions of Immigrants From Proposed Federal Stimulus Package

New York, NY—Following the Senate's passage of a $2 trillion economic stimulus package, immigrant advocates denounced the exclusion of millions of immigrants and families from the direct cash assistance programs and unemployment assistance. The package would direct payments of $1,200 to most American adults and $500 to most children, create a $500 billion lending program for large companies and cities, and extend another $367 billion to help small companies deal with payroll problems.

However, many immigrants—including taxpayers with mixed-status families who have already filed and paid their taxes—will not be eligible for the cash assistance, and even are excluded from free COVID-19 testing. In addition, millions of the roughly 29 million immigrant workers who make up 17 percent of the civilian workforce nationally—including up to 10 million undocumented immigrant workers—will be excluded from much of the relief for workers in the stimulus package, despite the fact that many of them are in the industries hit hardest by the pandemic (i.e. food processing, manufacturing, and the service sector), and contribute billions of dollars in state and federal taxes, including Social Security taxes.

“It is the height of cruelty and immorality that the Senate—led by Senate Majority Leader McConnell and New York’s own Minority Leader Schumer, chose to bail out corporate America, but refused to provide basic assistance to the most vulnerable amongst us," said Steve Choi, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition. "While most Americans are anxiously watching the COVID-19 pandemic play out on TV from the comfort of their homes, immigrant New Yorkers remain on the front lines of this crisis—literally risking their lives to take care of our elderly and our babies, pick, cook and deliver our food, and deep clean our hospitals and offices. Others are experiencing mass layoffs, especially those in the restaurant, bar and hospitality industries, and they have been robbed of any kind of safety net. Last night, the Senate could have taken a bold step to build a bulwark against the pandemic by providing access to testing, medical services and economic relief to every single person who calls America home. Instead, Senate Republicans and President Trump chose to cling to the racism and anti-immigrant extremism that have characterized the past three years and prioritized corporate America over the health and well-being of each and every one of us—and our Democratic leaders played along. We now need to pick up the pieces for the 53 million devastated immigrants who call this country home, and call on the House to show real compassion and understanding for all Americans—regardless of immigration status.”

"Over the past couple of months, we have heard about how essential workers are keeping our economies running,” said Mon Yuck Yu, Executive Vice President & Chief of Staff, Academy of Medical & Public Health Services. “These 'essential' workers—many undocumented immigrants, refugees and asylees—have always been at the front lines of our economy and they are at the front lines now, serving as our cashiers, delivery workers, and local neighborhood laundromats -- putting their lives on the line. The xenophobic and racist rhetoric from our federal administration is damaging and discounts the contributions of those who make up the fabric of our communities. Direct cash assistance and healthcare programs through the $1.6 billion federal stimulus package must include small businesses and nonprofits run by and serving our immigrant communities, as well as all workers regardless of documentation status. Without having the appropriate resources and health coverage, our communities might not only be avoiding treatment until it is too late, but they also risk having increased co-morbidities from pre-existing conditions that could be prevented through an investment in their health and vitality in the first place. Our economy depends on all the pieces of the puzzle, and we need our federal government to step up during these testing times to ensure that we support everyone affected by this crisis, because without our small businesses and without our immigrant workers, our neighborhoods will no longer exist."

“Our members include the hardworking African immigrants who are keeping New York running: delivery drivers, Amazon warehouse workers, taxi and Uber drivers, and healthcare and home healthcare workers," said Amaha Kassa, Executive Director, African Communities Together. “Others are service workers who have been hit hard by the lockdown, including restaurant workers, street vendors, and salon workers. All of them desperately need a stimulus bill that reaches them and their families. We are encouraged by the Senate's inclusion of Section 2102, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that helps freelancers, gig workers, and other self-employed workers, and we urge the House to follow suit. However, we are severely disappointed that the Senate limited the one-time 2020 recovery rebates of $1,200 to only those taxpayers with Social Security numbers, instead of including millions of immigrants who file with taxpayer identification numbers. The government did not demand Social Security numbers to take taxes out of our members' checks, and it should not demand them in order to give a little of it back.”

"Since early January, the Asian American community has been struggling with the impacts of COVID-19. Families, workers, and businesses in the Asian American community have been dealing with not only public health and economic challenges but also prejudice and discrimination," said Wayne Ho, President and CEO, Chinese-American Planning Council. "While there are good pieces of the federal stimulus package, we are concerned that it leaves behind many in the Asian American community, who have been struggling with the pandemic for a longer period of time. Restaurant workers, delivery drivers, workers in the informal economy or cash-based businesses, and anyone in a non-traditional job will be left behind. Undocumented individuals or mixed status families will continue to be marginalized, and their native-born children who do have social security numbers will also be denied. The Asian American community is serving on the front lines, risking their own health as social services providers, health care professionals, restaurant workers, and construction workers alongside Americans of all backgrounds in the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. They need and deserve our nation's unequivocal support as does every person in our country during this uncertain time."

“It is beyond cruel and unacceptable that the federal government has decided to leave out of the economic stimulus package such a critical part of our workforce and vulnerable community during this public health crisis,” said Aracelis Lucero, Executive Director, Masa. “Our immigrant and undocumented community are key essential workers who we are all relying on to keep us safe and well during this time by stacking our grocery stores, delivering food while we quarantine, and taking care of our children while people work remotely -- risking their own health and safety. They have earned and deserve to be able to count on a safety net to help them get through these hard times. They should not have to choose between putting food on the table, paying for rent, or paying for key supplies they need now to keep them and their families safe during this time. I can assure you that we will regret this decision in the short-term. It is neither the right moral or economic path to take and most certainly not the wisest decision from a public health perspective.”

"Although undocumented immigrants have lower crime rates, pay taxes, and are a net positive for our country and economy, the narrative that scapegoats immigrant communities has historically led to unjust and exclusionary policies, including at times like these where many undocumented immigrants are playing a critical role in keeping our cities and communities safe and running," said John Park, Executive Director, Minkwon Center for Community Action. "Asian American immigrants are also being scapegoated with insensitive rhetoric, with the pandemic being racialized and leading to a spike in anti-Asian hate-crimes. With a virus that has no bias and infects individuals indiscriminately, it makes no sense to take a scalpel and carve out who should and shouldn't be recipients of a health and economic emergency. We are all in this together, and any national effort to buffer the impact of the pandemic must be designed to be inclusive and not exclude the most impacted people and communities."

"Excluding undocumented workers in this relief package is a grave mistake, one that will lead to great suffering in our communities, and likely the loss of life," said Manuel Castro, Executive Director, New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE). "This is not a partisan or ideological issue, it is a morality and human rights issue. Excluding them from relief isn’t only an immoral act of bigotry, but an extension of this nightmare. Undocumented immigrants continue to perform the labor few people want but which we all depend while they suffer the starkest consequences from layoffs, lack of protective equipment, food insecurity, and lack of access to healthcare."

Background:

The NYIC is continuing to fight for the inclusion of immigrant New Yorkers in the response planning to COVID-19 happening in Washington, Albany, and City Hall. Last week, the NYIC unveiled the NY United campaign, which calls on federal, state, and local officials to implement common-sense policy and budget proposals to ensure that New York’s immigrants are protected and empowered during this crisis.


COVID-19 Resources

Find resources for immigrant New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic here