MAF Awarded $45 Million To Support Immigrant Families During COVID-19 Crisis. It’s Still Not Enough — Congress Must Act.
Building on MAF’s nationwide COVID-19 Rapid Response campaign, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott awarded MAF $45 million to provide direct relief to those hit hardest by the pandemic. MacKenzie Scott’s generous gift enables MAF to continue providing financial relief to immigrant families excluded from receiving help. Over the past year, MAF has already distributed direct cash assistance to 48,000+ individuals to help them weather the crisis—and today the organization is poised to do even more.
In spite of these efforts, the reach of a single organization like MAF is nowhere near enough to meet the staggering financial devastation faced by millions of immigrant families left out of federal relief. We need leadership and action at a national level to ensure the last and the least are a part of a sustainable recovery.
Congress has taken meaningful steps in recent months to expand the safety net when families needed it most.
The December 2020 COVID relief bill and 2021 American Rescue Plan extended the latest rounds of financial relief to more than 3 million people in mixed-status households left out of the 2020 CARES Act. Yet, an estimated 11 million people in immigrant families continue to be denied assistance even as they keep the economy afloat in essential work.
“As an undocumented person who has filed my taxes for twelve years, it has been hard to have to accept that in times when we struggle, we are unable to receive anything back.”Juan, Rapid Response grant recipient
This exclusion comes at a time when our economy rests on the shoulders of essential workers who cannot access support to weather the pandemic even as they are suffering higher rates of COVID infections and deaths. Essential workers are immigrant workers and many have no access to relief. They are going hungry, falling behind on rent, missing monthly bills for no fault of their own.
More must be done.
In meeting this moment of crisis, Congress must advance desperately needed relief and include everyone—regardless of immigration status. Over the last year, we have seen how the health and economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic have fallen disproportionately on the marginalized, excluded, and invisible. Congress must expand support to all immigrants, putting equity front and center to deliver relief to the least and last. This intentional focus on equity is at the heart of MAF’s Rapid Response Fund, and the means by which the organization has provided nearly $30 million in direct cash assistance.
“We’ve spent 14 years building scalable platforms, relevant products, and a national network of community based organizations to help low-income and immigrant families improve their financial security. Now, we’re using our platform as pipes to effectively and with dignity distribute the crisp waters of relief into the hands of those most parched, those who have been denied and forgotten.”MAF CEO José Quiñonez
MAF’s capacity to act and scale quickly is a direct result of the partners who have and continue to believe in its vision of leveraging the best of technology and finance in service of those left in the shadows. Their sustained support has enabled MAF to pioneer new ways of meeting people where they are, in the fullness of their complexity and their humanity. MAF is now expanding its equity-centered work helping low-income and immigrant families directly during this unprecedented crisis.
MAF applauds MacKenzie Scott for showing up, with urgency and conviction, to do more for families relegated to the shadows. Now it’s time for Congress to do the same.
Immigrants are essential, risking their lives to keep our country afloat during this pandemic.
They have stepped up for us, and now it’s our turn to step up for them. If we really want a more permanent and prosperous path to recovery, Congress needs to eliminate the structural barriers that have long stood in the way of people’s abilities to reach their full economic potential.
Today, we have not one but five proposals on the table that could help us get there. We have proposals that would provide legal status and protections to millions of Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, farmworkers, and essential workers and their families. While these bills can be the critical building blocks to move us forward, they are not the end goal. Congress must ultimately push forward with the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which offers a sweeping reform that would grant 11 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.
By removing these long-standing barriers which have for so long pushed millions into the shadows, immigrants can have the opportunity to rebuild their financial lives more fully and with dignity. They can have financial stability in their lives to rebuild their financial security, and have a fighting chance in a post-pandemic recovery.