DETROIT – Members of the Immigration Task Force (ITF) have received a $750,000 grant from the national philanthropic group Open Society Foundations (OSF) to establish the Detroit COVID-19 UndocuFund, which will help Detroiters without legal immigration status (undocumented residents) who have been impacted by COVID-19. The fund was made possible through a partnership with OSF, Detroit City Councilwoman Raquel Castañeda-López, the ITF and the city’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.
Open Society Foundations has partnered with 19 other major metropolitan cities in a nation-wide economic relief effort to help immigrant communities who were impacted by COVID-19 and who are underserved by the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act.
“The city of Detroit recognizes that undocumented immigrants are especially vulnerable, due to the increased risk of infection they face as essential workers, language barriers and their ineligibility for federal relief packages,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said during a July 9 press conference at the Detroit Hispanic Development Center.
“Our immigrant communities have been a part of this city for generations, making major contributions to the social, cultural and economic fabric of our city,” Castañeda-López said. “Detroit’s immigrant population is approximately 6.1 percent. We estimate that about 15,000 to 20,000 of these Detroit residents are undocumented. This grant will provide much needed relief to those most vulnerable in our communities and strengthen the impact of the community organizations that serve them.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has pulled back the curtain and laid bare society’s failure to provide basic protections for essential and frontline workers,” said Patrick Gaspard, president of the Open Society Foundations. “Absent any leadership and a plan from the federal government, philanthropy and the private sector have stepped in and stepped up to help our neighbors in Detroit and elsewhere. These immigrants, domestic and undocumented workers are the people keeping our country running, and yet have been purposely excluded from federal relief packages.”
Over the past month, the ITF worked to create a program that is accessible, community-led and will ensure the fund supports all of the diverse undocumented communities throughout Detroit. The Detroit COVID-19 UndocuFund was strategically designed to funnel support to families through trusted community partners that work on the front lines with undocumented communities. The ITF selected the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation to serve as the fiscal sponsor and manage the fund. To ensure that the funds reach the undocumented individuals and families who qualify for the program, DHDC will work in partnership with The Islamic Center of Detroit (ICD), Global Detroit, African Bureau for Immigration and Social Affairs and One Michigan to disburse the monies.
“The Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation is grateful for the opportunity to help get the resources provided by the Open Society Foundations to those organizations that are on the ground working directly with the various immigrant communities in our city so that the help goes to those most in need,” said Angie Reyes, executive director of the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation. “As a member of the Immigration Task Force, we are also grateful to the city of Detroit and Council member Castañeda-López for their support in making this possible.”
Sufian Nebahn, the executive director of the Islamic Center of Detroit (ICD), said the center is open for all Detroiters from all walk of life and ready to help.
“The undocumented community is being undeserved in the whole nation, actually, sometimes being targeted,” he said. “Detroit is one big family and this fund will support family and neighbors that were left behind through these difficult times. In Detroit we look out after our neighbors and each other.”
“COVID 19 impacted all Detroiters,” Duggan said. “We appreciate the support from federal relief dollars to assist residents across the city. Unfortunately, many Detroiters did not qualify for this assistance. “We are proud to partner with the Open Society Foundations to support our Detroit immigrant communities. This critical funding will provide relief, protect public health and give emergency aid to families who were left out by federal recovery programs.”
Undocumented immigrants who are out of work don’t qualify for unemployment or federal relief checks that some other Americans have relied on during the pandemic.
Dr. Hayg Oshagan, professor of communications at Wayne State University, director of New Michigan Media and a member of the Detroit Immigration Task Force, told The Arab American News that, “The greatest challenges during the Coronavirus pandemic are faced by the most vulnerable among us, in particular immigrants in our communities who are undocumented and could not receive any federal assistance to help make it through the pandemic.
“I am proud of the work that the we did on the Immigration Task Force to bring some support and relief to our neighbors most in need, the undocumented residents of Detroit,” he said. “We are stronger in our struggle for justice and equity when we help each other to stand together.”
Information requested on the application
— Number of adults living in the household*
— Number of children living in the household•
That includes members of your family or immediate relatives, DO NOT include individuals renting separately in the same house.
Name, address (optional: Zip code, phone number, e-mail or preferred language)
*Maximum amount of assistance: $2,000. $500 per adult and $100 per child under the age of 17.
To apply: Contact one of the organizations below
Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation: 313-967-4880 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
One Michigan for Immigrant Rights: 313-473-0490 or E-mail: email@example.com
Global Detroit: 313-603-6789 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Islamic Center of Detroit (ICD): 313-584-4143 or E-mail: email@example.com
ABISA: 313-462-9265 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org