Child Welfare

CARES Act Impact on Immigrant Communities

April 6, 2020 | Texas

Our friends at the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) recently released a comprehensive policy brief on the impact that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will have on immigrant communities.

During a time when we need inclusive recovery policies the most, the $2 trillion stimulus bill failed to meet the most basic health care and economic needs of millions of Americans, including immigrant workers and families who are on the frontlines of caring for our communities during this pandemic.

Immigrant communities need to have essential spaces kept safe from immigration enforcement. Despite the urgent need, given the COVID-19 public health crisis, there are no provisions in any of the COVID-19 relief bills that prohibit U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from conducting immigration enforcement in any designated sensitive locations, including health care centers, schools, medical treatment and health care facilities, places of worship, religious or civil ceremonies, and public demonstrations.

Immigrant workers must receive workplace protections that follow a federal workplace safety standard. Currently there is no Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard that covers preparation in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis in the workplace. Workplace safety standards are crucial for every occupation, but they are especially necessary for migrant laborers.

The immigrant community needs and deserves equitable economic support. The 2020 Recovery Rebate included in the CARES act includes a Social Security number requirement that will exclude many immigrant and mixed-immigration status families from reviving financial assistance.

In the next round of legislation, The Children’s Defense Fund-Texas supports NILC’s recommendations to urge congress to consider:

  • Expanding emergency Medicaid to include COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccines to ensure that uninsured individuals, regardless of their immigration status, would be covered for COVID-19-related services.
  • Halting the implementation of the public charge rule and stop any further action by federal agencies to alter longstanding policies on public charge.
  • Making government “sensitive locations” safe from and off-limits to immigration enforcement activity to ensure immigrant communities stay home and focused on remaining healthy or able to access crucial spaces such as medical facilities without the added fear of being separated from their families and experiencing an erosion of their communities.
  • Removing the Social Security number requirement for the Recovery Rebate, and establishing an application process for the Recovery Rebate who have not earned enough to have filed taxes in 2018 or 2019 to ensure immigrant communities receive the economic support they deserve.
  • Implementing a federal workplace safety standard, automatic extension of work authorization, and improvements to paid sick leave and paid family medical leave.

In this unprecedented time, it is crucial that inclusive recovery policies are in order for all of us to be healthy and safe, regardless of citizenship status. The global public health crisis has proven that our collective health and well-being are deeply interdependent; if we fall short of protecting immigrant communities, we fall short of protecting the nation as a whole.

Read the full policy brief here: