Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition

Immigrant Rights Groups Launch the PA Immigrant Relief Fund

May 22 2020    Press Center

For Immediate Release: Friday, May 22, 2020

Contact: Sundrop Carter, 610-217-8222, sundropcarter@paimmigrant.org

The statewide fund will provide one-time emergency cash assistance to individuals excluded from federal COVID-19 relief programs.  

Pennsylvania – The COVID-19 pandemic magnifies the inequities that immigrant communities in Pennsylvania already experience. While immigrant rights organizations across the state are working together to create long-term policy change – from passing legislation to provide tuition equity for all students to access driver’s licenses for all PA residents to ending local law enforcement collaboration with ICE – they also recognize that it is essential to take care of people in this moment of crisis.

In the first weeks of this pandemic, over 40 organizations across Pennsylvania came together to form the PA Immigrant Relief Fund, a statewide fund that will provide direct emergency assistance to people excluded from federal COVID-19 assistance programs due to their immigration status or the immigration status of a family member and are in need of immediate financial assistance.

Happy and very grateful recipients of the PA Immigrant Relief Fund through Project Libertad’s work in Norristown. Photo credit: Project Libertad

In its first round of distribution, the Philadelphia Foundation, which houses the PA Immigrant Relief Fund, distributed funds to 30 organizations across the state who are providing $800 in cash assistance to 580 individuals statewide. Launched with a $500,000 gift from The Douty Foundation in Philadelphia, the PA Immigrant Relief Fund has set a goal of raising $4 million by June 30, 2020, and helping 5,000 immigrants with direct cash assistance. The application process for organizations to participate in future distributions will be announced in the coming weeks.

This fund is hosted by PA is Ready!, an innovative, community-led network and participatory grantmaking fund rooted in and serving diverse immigrant and refugee communities across Pennsylvania. Individuals can donate to the PA Immigrant Relief Fund through the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition at: http://paimmigrant.org/pa-immigrant-relief-fund/. Donors can also contribute to the PA is Ready! Fund through the Philadelphia Foundation at: https://www.philafound.org/give-now/ . 100% of donations to the PA Immigrant Relief Fund will be distributed as emergency assistance to eligible individuals. 

“The PA Immigrant Relief Fund is a powerful example of how philanthropy is responding to the immediate demands of one of our most vulnerable communities—those who have been excluded from federal COVID-19 relief programs due to their immigration status. I extend my sincere thanks to the Albert and Mary Douty Foundation and all of the individual donors for stepping up and supporting this initiative. With a goal of providing financial relief to 5,000 individuals, this fund has the potential to positively impact so many immigrant residents in Philadelphia and beyond,” stated City of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. 

Quotes from Organizations on the impact of the PA Immigrant Relief Fund:

“As a statewide organization that fights for the healthcare rights of all Pennsylvanians, Put People First! PA is proud to be part of the PA Immigrant Relief Fund to support our African and Latinx families throughout the state,” remarked founder and co-coordinator Nijmie Dzurinko.

“At Asian Americans United, in early March we began seeing hundreds of families in our Asian communities lose business, places of employment, and having to make hard choices to work in unsafe conditions. Undocumented community members have a particularly difficult time accessing relief. This fund is the first we know of to offer direct financial support – for food, rent, supplies for safety.  We were so grateful to be able to distribute funds to families in need.” – Alix Webb, Executive Director

“I barely have words for how much this can help. I am trying not to get emotional. I have been seeing our families nearly every day for two months. The impact of this pandemic is incredible — losing jobs, facing eviction. They are so grateful when they come to pick up food. This money will change their lives. It doesn’t seem like a lot to us, but to them, it is like a million bucks right now. They can pay their rent, and sleep easy for a change.” – Sara Dickens-Trillo, Program Director, Mighty Writers Kennett in West Grove, PA (Chester County)

“We, at Catholic Social Services, do not have enough words to express how important this effort is to support our brothers and sisters in need in a most dignified manner promoting solidarity, justice and compassion. Most importantly, the undocumented community feels acknowledged and valued for their contribution to the workforce that supports the economy of Pennsylvania.“ Estela Reyes-Bugg, Administrator of Volunteer and Parish Community Relations

“Advocates at Victim/ Witness Services of South Philadelphia are accustomed to supporting and advocating for our communities when they are at their most vulnerable, and like many of the other organizations taking part in this collective, we scrambled to find resources and support as this crisis deepened. This funding has been the only source of financial reprieve for many of our most vulnerable community members. As one of our community members explained, “We weren’t sure whether to pay for chemotherapy or rent this month because we can’t pay for both. Now we have a little more time.” As we work to support each other and our community members through these difficult and uncertain times, we will continue to stand together to push for the resources needed to keep our communities thriving.“

“It is great to provide some financial help to unauthorized immigrant families whom we have assisted in filing their federal tax returns. They met their obligation to pay taxes, yet Washington denies them a stimulus payment during a pandemic knowing that 70% of unauthorized immigrant families have US-born children. We hope that we can do more for them soon.” – Marcos Lomeli, Ceiba Program Coordinator

The following organizations worked to create the PA Immigrant Relief Fund:

  • ACLAMO Family Centers
  • African Family Health Organization
  • Aquinas Center
  • Archdiocese of Phila. – Office of Immigrants & Refugees
  • Asian Americans United
  • CASA
  • Casa de la Cultura
  • Casa San Jose
  • Ceiba
  • Centro de Apoyo Comunitario
  • Church World Service – Lancaster
  • Coalition for Restaurant Safety & Health
  • Coalition of African Communities (AFRICOM)
  • Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas (CATA)
  • Esperanza Immigration Legal Services
  • Free Migration Project
  • Grupo de Apoyo
  • HIAS PA
  • Immigrant Rights Action
  • International Service Center
  • Jewish Family and Community Services
  • Juntos
  • Justice at Work
  • La Puerta Abierta
  • Make the Road PA
  • Mighty Writers
  • Movement of Immigrant Leaders in PA (MILPA)
  • Nationalities Services Center
  • New Sanctuary Movement
  • Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center
  • Project Libertad
  • Puentes de Salud
  • Put People First
  • Victim/Witness Services S. Philadelphia
  • VietLead
  • Welcoming the Stranger
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