No federal stimulus check is coming for unemployed undocumented workers now in the third month of having to choose between paying rent and buying groceries. There's no state aid either. They can't apply for unemployment and are not eligible for SNAP benefits.
Knowing this harsh reality for many of its local citizens, a Fairfield County citizens group mobilized to try to help families out.
The Norwalk Immigrant Community Emergency Fund organized by Unidad Latina Norwalk (ULA) has raised $2,000 of a $50,000 goal since it established a GoFundMe on May 8. Wesleyan University student and part of Middlesex Immigrant Rights Alliance Ashley Ogwang is calling attention to the group's effort.
"It was created because the pandemic has drastically affected the lives of immigrants, specifically undocumented, communities and they need help during this time. This fundraiser is specifically for undocumented families/workers in Norwalk who do not have access to state/federal funds during this crisis," she explained.
The fundraiser will benefit undocumented people in the Norwalk community "who contribute a lot annually to state/federal taxes."
There are 140,000 undocumented residents of Connecticut who are excluded from receiving any federal emergency assistance even if they have children who are American citizens, according to the governor's office.
"It is important to support them as they work to maintain the city of Norwalk and the state of Connecticut as well as the entire country, during and long before this pandemic, and continue to fight to create a relief fund to meet their own needs in this time of crisis," she said.
The funds will be used to provide immigrant workers and families support for food, rent, medicine, and PPE as well as bills for phone and internet.
Meanwhile, a public-private partnership, 4-CT (see "Are You 4-CT? Donate To The Connecticut COVID-19 Charity Connection") will provide economic relief for undocumented residents who are not eligible to receive federal or state stimulus money through a 4-CT Card, a debit card, and the amount that will be on the card will depend on the specific circumstances of the family.
The 4-CT Card helps COVID-19-impacted communities and families excluded from existing federal relief programs by providing them with direct, one-time payments. The debit cards will be distributed to eligible recipients by community-based organizations to help pay for expenses like food and clothing. There are approximately 140,000 undocumented people in Connecticut.
The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, the CARES Act, provides emergency assistance to people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic but excludes relief for residents who are undocumented and any U.S. citizen who files taxes with an undocumented spouse or partner. Additionally, it denies emergency benefits to the U.S. citizen children of these parents.
Ashley Gaudiano the director of External Affairs at Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants explained. Undocumented persons without a Social Security number cannot receive the stimulus check and families that filed taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number cannot get the stimulus check. "So USC clients who have petitioned for a family member to get residence who have a case on hold are ineligible," she said. In addition, undocumented individuals are not eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and absent a work permit, are not eligible to work so cannot receive unemployment.
The cards are expected to be distributed in the coming weeks.