Although the number of COVID-19 cases in New York City has been declining since its peak in mid-April, the lingering economic and health consequences may be equally detrimental. The immigrant community has been disproportionately affected by the virus due to their role in essential services, barriers to healthcare, and fears around immigration enforcement and the public charge rule. However, relief programs that exclude immigrants prevent their communities from a speedy recovery.
The highest death rates were seen in immigrant communities, as well as neighborhoods with high concentrations of black and Latino people- particularly in north and southeast Queens, much of Staten Island, and the South Bronx. Although hit the hardest, immigrants are often left out of federal COVID-19 relief programs, such as the CARES Act, passed by Congress in late March, which prevented immigrants without legal status or social security numbers from receiving the $1,200 stimulus check. Even relief packages passed by NYC's own government have failed to satisfy the needs of its entire immigrant population.
Impact of the NYC Immigrant Emergency Relief Fund
In an attempt to combat the disproportionate health and economic impact of the pandemic on immigrant communities, Mayor Bill de Blasio, in partnership with Open Society Foundations, announced the Immigrant Emergency Relief Program, a plan to allocate $20 million to 20,000 undocumented workers and their families who have been affected by COVID-19-related financial trouble. This one-time emergency support payment was meant to provide eligible New Yorkers $400 per person, $800 per couple or single parent with children, and $1,000 per family.