Coronavirus Immigrant & Refugee Support Fund
Many of the communities we organize are disproportionately feeling the pain of the coronavirus pandemic: job loss, lack of access to health care, food insecurity, fear of losing our homes, and worse. Unfortunately, most relief programs explicitly exclude some of the most vulnerable among us: immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers.
Here is just one story from one Unite Oregon member experiencing a situation that many immigrants and refugees are also facing. For reasons that will become clear, we are choosing to protect her anonymity, and we will simply refer to her as "Sara." Sara is a single mother and survivor of domestic violence who previously worked in the hospitality industry at a local restaurant. At the beginning of the outbreak, Sara's daughter, a US citizen, became sick and Sara was forced to take paid family leave to care for her. Thankfully, her daughter recovered, but when Sara returned to work, she found that she was being laid off, as were so many hospitality workers in the wake of the Governor's stay-at-home order due to COVID-19 pandemia.
She was told to file for unemployment, but because Sara is undocumented, she cannot, nor can she tell her employer that fact for fear of losing her job. She is undocumented through no fault of her own: a refugee from a violent, war-torn country with which the United States has severed its diplomatic relationship. She has no consulate or embassy to turn to, and cannot access the documents she needs to adjust her status in the United States. Nor can she return to the country of her birth.
Like all mixed-status families, Sara and her daughter will not receive the $1,200 in federal coronavirus stimulus payments. Even a single ineligible individual in a family disqualifies every member of that family from receiving federal relief, regardless of whether some or most family members are citizens, permanent residents, or otherwise eligible. So Sara is out of work, and out of options.
Recently, Sara's landlord tried to evict her for nonpayment of rent, despite the Governor's moratorium on evictions. She was told that she needed to pay half of her monthly rent & utilities immediately and the rest at the end of the month in order to keep her housing. And while we were able to inform Sara of her rights in this situation and prevent her from losing her home, she still has no income, no money on hand, as she continues to accrue rent and utility bills which she's not sure how she can pay.
This is a story we hear again and again and again from our communities, from undocumented folks, refugees, and asylum-seekers alike, all of whom are left out of federal and many state support programs. In this unprecedented, global crisis, we cannot leave our friends, family, neighbors, and community members behind. We must work together to support those who cannot support themselves.
Unite Oregon is proud to announce the launch of our Coronavirus Immigrant & Refugee Support Fund, to help immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers who have been excluded from other relief programs. We aren't waiting to take action: we are immediately directing $15,000 to community members whose needs have already been identified by our organizers, from food assistance to help defraying rent payments, and everything in between.
Our goal is to raise $50,000 to support vulnerable community members in need. We will spend these funds in the core areas we organize: Portland, Multnomah County, Clackamas County, Tigard, Beaverton, and Jackson County in southern Oregon.
We know many of our allies are receiving their federal stimulus payments - will you contribute all or part of that to ensure that immigrant families are able to put food on their table and keep their housing?
Please give to our dedicated Coronavirus Immigrant & Refugee Support Fund below. Unite Oregon is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and thus all donations to the Coronavirus Immigrant Support Fund are fully tax-deductible.
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