Many immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the USA are facing even larger challenges than other Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. Their access to healthcare, financial relief and other supports is limited. Many are more vulnerable to COVD-19 than other Americans. We’ve put together some ideas for how you can help.
How can I help with donations?
For those of us who are lucky enough to have an income, one of the most valuable actions is to donate to help those who have lost income or lack resources during the coronavirus emergency.
If you have not lost your income, consider donating some or all of your stimulus check or tax credit to our undocumented neighbors. Undocumented Americans pay billions of dollars a year in payroll taxes, and billions more in self-employment taxes through the ITIN system, but these taxpayers do not qualify for unemployment benefits or stimulus funding.
Here are some emergency funds that distribute help or cash to people who have lost their income but are not eligible for benefits:
- The National Domestic Workers Alliance’s Coronavirus Care Fund provides immediate financial support for domestic workers, including in-home care workers, nannies, and house cleaners.
- The COVID-19 Humanitarian Migrant Fund provides emergency funds to migrant families, asylum seekers, deportees, and migrants in refugee camps and shelters.
- New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) is helping the most vulnerable workers in New York, with a focus on day laborers, domestic workers, and newly arrived immigrants.
- The Latino Community Foundation’s Love Not Fear Fund channels critical funds to Latino-led organizations serving California’s most vulnerable communities – elders, undocumented, farmworkers, and working-class families – during the pandemic.
- The Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund, a collaboration of the city, United Way, and local foundations, is an emergency fund that supports people with no access to relief funds.
- The One Fair Wage Emergency Fund is providing cash assistance to restaurant workers, car service drivers, delivery workers, personal service workers and others who need money to survive.
- The Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVD-19 fund provides direct cash relief to restaurant workers and zero-interest loans to restaurant businesses during the crisis.
- The National Day Laborer Organizing Network’s Immigrant Worker Safety Net Fund gathers and distributes resources for day laborers, undocumented, and other low-wage workers who do not have job security, paid sick time, health care, or access to other basic services.
- Cosecha campaigns peacefully for permanent protection, dignity, and respect for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Its Undocumented Worker Fund will redistribute your donation directly to immigrants impacted by the current crisis.
- Human Rights First advocates against human trafficking and for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. It has set up an emergency client fund for direct aid to detained asylum seekers and their families.
There are other emergency funds across the country helping undocumented neighbors in their own regions and cities. Please check for emergency funds in your community.
Help to fund translations
Donate to USAHello – help us translate our coronavirus materials and other resources into more languages to reach a wider audience.
Help with computers and internet access
Many families with children trying to study at home have no access to their schools’ distance learning programs. These organizations help families in need get connected:
Donate an old phone or tablet
Donate your old phones and tablets to Secure the Call, which recycles used phones to give to people in need. Smartphones can be used for wireless internet access to connect kids to their school distance learning programs.
Support a local business
Don’t forget your neighbors who run small food businesses and are struggling to survive. Even if you would not usually order takeout, do it now!
How can I help as a volunteer?
Tutor a child online
Children across the country are distance learning right now. You can help those who struggle with English, reading and writing, or math. Contact your local school district to see how you can help with online one-on-one tutoring,
Help an adult learn English
Speak brings together newcomers and locals living in the same city through community-led language groups and cultural exchange events. Speak is offering free, daily, two-week language instruction to participants, and it needs volunteer instructors. Your local community may also offer online English tutoring opportunities.
Become a community partner
Contact your local refugee resettlement agency or other volunteer groups to see if you can sponsor a newcomer or undocumented family in need. Look in FindHello to find organizations in your community.
How can I help as an advocate?
Thousands of asylum seekers who have committed no crime are in detention in the USA. The conditions in detention facilities are dangerous due to overcrowding and a lack of hygiene and personal protective equipment. Advocate to release detainees by signing a petition on Amnesty’s website. For more information, read Amnesty’s report.
Call or write to your local, state and federal elected officials and ask that future emergency aid includes undocumented workers, who pay billions of dollars in federal taxes every year but do not qualify for relief assistance or stimulus funds.
You can also follow the tips in the State Action Toolkit for a Refugee and Immigrant Inclusive Response to COVID-19. The toolkit, created by Church World Service, features the top five priorities state and local officials can take action on and additional resources for communities to take action.
How can I fight discrimination and stigma?
Across the USA, people are being targeted because of fears about COVID-19. What can you do to help?
- Read tips about how to counter coronavirus stigma from the CDC.
- Report discrimination to your local government or to your local ACLU affiliate.
- Submit an incident report to the Asian Pacifc Policy and Planning Council.
- File a formal complaint to the US government if you witness discrimination at work.
- Find anti-stigma resources from Washington state.
- Get informed about people’s rights in the face of discrimination so you can inform others.
How can refugees and immigrants help?
Millions of refugees and immigrants are already helping in countless ways to keep other Americans safe and to provide essential services during the pandemic.
Here are some additional ways refugees and immigrants can use their specific skills:
If you have health or medical experience
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has set up Refugees.Rescue.org to enable refugees and immigrants in the USA to register their interest in working on the COVID response in their local community or elsewhere.
If you are available to volunteer
- Across the country, food pantries and food banks that serve the public have had to furlough their older volunteers who are more vulnerable to serious health outcomes with COVD-19. Many have or will soon have a shortage of volunteers. Contact your local food bank if you are able to leave your home and volunteer for a few hours a week.
- The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a national network of volunteers, organized locally to improve the health and safety of their communities. MRC volunteers include medical and public health professionals, as well as other community members without healthcare backgrounds.
- USAHello is always looking for volunteers, and we all work remotely from home. Join our team of translators to help convert important information on our website into your language.