Almost overnight, the COVID-19 pandemic decimated the financial lives of immigrant families. Through no fault of their own, millions of immigrants lost jobs and income they relied on to support their families, forcing them to deplete what little savings they had or extend credit just to survive. In their time of greatest need, Congress excluded 11 million immigrants and their families from emergency stimulus checks and a desperately-needed financial lifeline.
In an effort to help those left behind, MAF launched the Immigrant Families Fund (IFF) to provide unrestricted cash grants to people excluded from federal relief. Since launching the IFF in April 2020, MAF has received over 196,000 applications for support. Overwhelmed with requests for help, we designed a financial equity framework to determine who could benefit the most from a one-time grant, prioritizing applicants with the fewest income sources and most financial strains. By placing financial equity front and center, MAF has provided 39,000 grants to families with the greatest need.*
In October 2020, MAF conducted a survey to learn how the pandemic and economic crisis impacted those left behind, collecting detailed information from 11,677 grant recipients. Now, drawing on what is the largest national survey of immigrants left out of federal relief, we report on the deep financial pain immigrants are facing, the strategies they are using to weather the crisis, and the cost of exclusion from a safety net that continues to leave people behind.
*MAF continues to disburse grants to immigrant families on a rolling basis. You can track applications and grants awarded here.
“Due to corona I have lost 100% of my income and have no idea how I’ll pay for my rent or bills especially now that another month was added to the shelter-at-home order. This [grant] is very important to me. Not only will it help me financially but also helps my emotional health as I know I’m being taken into consideration and no matter my legal status. I’m also being affected by this virus and some aid is very much needed to pay food bills rent or possible medical bills since I’m having no help the necessity of looking for a job has become a reality and that puts me in a vulnerable position against COVID 19.” – Fatima