The challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic crisis are disproportionately affecting many immigrant workers and families across the US. An array of barriers, such as program eligibility rules and lack of language access, put federal, state, and local relief programs out of reach for many families. Community-based organizations (CBOs) serving immigrants with low incomes are on the front lines to support these families and fill the gaps in many government initiatives. But these organizations must deal with the challenges that the COVID-19 crisis imposes on their own staff and capabilities and with chilling effects that may discourage immigrant families from accepting support.
We partnered with the Protecting Immigrant Families, Advancing Our Future campaign (the PIF campaign) to gather national information on the immigrant-serving field during the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis (May to June 2020). In this brief, we provide perspectives from organizations across the country that serve these families, sharing their view on what is happening in immigrant communities; what federal, state, and local response efforts have and have not done to support immigrant families; and how their organizations have taken action to respond to this crisis. We find that because of the economic crisis, organizations across the country are seeing an increase in unmet basic needs, such as cash, food, and housing, in the immigrant communities they serve.