Coronavirus & Immigrant Rights: Resources & Advocacy
Covid-19, the Coronavirus, has wreaked havoc across the globe — an international health pandemic on a significant scale. While we now have vaccines, the roll-out and access to these vaccines is spotty, and there is still no curative treatment. Communities continue to see surges in cases, particularly communities of color and those in the Global South. While we are starting to see some relief ahead, we know that Covid will continue to have a widespread impact on public health, economies on multiple levels, and social and economic well-being for some time to come.
Consequences for people in migration —whether migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and the internally displaced— are a particular concern. Many borders remained closed or restricted; families are surviving in precarious migrant shelters and refugee camps; and undocumented families fearing arrest and deportation are afraid to seek medical care; people in detention lack access to sanitation precautions and “social distancing”. Xenophobic politicians continue to rant about the “Chinese” or “foreign” virus as immigrants, and Asians in particular, are being targeted for racist verbal and violent physical assaults.
On this page, NNIRR provides a round-up of community information and educational resources, as well as advocacy initiatives and actions to ensure that all immigrant community members have safe health care access and inclusion in economic recovery efforts. We will continue to update as advocacy and action opportunities emerge.
Safety and health access are human rights and governments must take responsibility for protecting ALL in this moment of crisis.
NNIRR has responded to this crisis by bringing together dozens of civil society partners on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border to press mayors and governors to provide safeguards for migrants and asylum seekers who are especially at risk from the multiple impacts of COVID-19.
In 2020, NNIRR co-authored a binational letter with over 100 sign-ons demanding local border governments safely decongest encampments, release families from immigration detention and remove border patrol checkpoints on roads leading to hospitals.
- Organizational Sign-on for Border Advocacy: The deadline is open and the list is growing for this important call for human rights protections.
En español: Puede revisar la carta aquí y agregar el apoyo de su organización llenando este formulario. The deadline is open and the list is growing for this important call for human rights protections.
Community & Worker Relief Funds & Support
Go here for listings of relief funds to help support immigrant communities and workers during the health and economic crisis.
Answers to Common Questions about Vaccine Access from National Immigration Law Center (NILC)
DHS Statement on Equal Access to COVID-19 Vaccines and Vaccine Distribution Sites
CDC Print Resources
Find print resources in multiple languages. Navigate to the Print Resources webpage and search by the language you are looking for, or click on the language below.
COVID-19 materials related to prevention, travel, vaccination, and other topics are available in:
HEALTH TIPS & ACCESS
Multi-lingual Health Information Videos About COVID-19 from Church World Service
Information page on coronavirus (in Spanish)
- Tools for Asian communities in various languages a project of AAPIs For Civic Empowerment-Education Fund (AAPI FORCE-EF), an alliance of community organizations in California
- Community Care During COVID-19: A Message To and From AAPIs
FAQ for Immigrant Workers
Center for Disease Control & Prevention
Center for Disease Control and Prevention Information on the coronavirus, including symptoms, precautions, treatment and more. Available in several languages.
- Access Spanish language information and documents | Acceso a información y documentos del CDC en español
- Factsheet in Spanish | Hoja de información en español
Tips on how to make homemade face masks:
How to make a simple homemade face mask from a t-shirt in less than 5 minutes | Como construir una mascara de cara en casa con una camiseta en menos de 5 minutos: YOU TUBE VIDEO
- Requires no sewing, no tape or elastic or rubber bands.
- Each shirt can make up to 4 double-layered masks and can be done in two sizes (adult or child).
- This mask is washable/reusable and kind to the environment.
- This mask has been approved by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and is being shared as a resource on their website
FOR HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS IN MIGRANT COMMUNITIES
Toolkit for Health Care Providers: Preserve Access to Care and Protect Your Patients from Border Patrol and ICE Interference – a project of the ACLU, National Immigration Law Center and Physicians for Human Rights
- Practice Alert: Coronavirus Asylum Claims Based on “Other Serious Harm” National Immigration Project, National Lawyers Guild – for practitioners, March 19, 2020
Who is Eligible?
- To be eligible for funeral assistance, you must meet these conditions:
- The death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
- The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
- The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.
- There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.
If you had COVID-19 funeral expenses, you will need the following documentation:
- An official death certificate that attributes the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
- Funeral expenses documents (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that includes the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and the dates the funeral expenses happened.
- Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. We are not able to duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, or other sources.
- Understanding the Impact of Key Provisions of Covid-19 Relief Bills on Immigrant Communities
- COVID-19 Legislation: Quick Facts and Analysis for Refugees and Resettlement Offices – Refugee Council USA and others
- The CARES Act: How Does the Pandemic Impact Me as a Refugee (flyer)
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, ICE must cease ALL immigration enforcement activities, particularly near medical facilities, and implement community-based detention alternatives to alleviate mass overcrowding in detention facilities. To avoid preventable deaths and mitigate the harm from a COVID-19 outbreak, individuals and families, particularly those most vulnerable–the elderly, pregnant people, people with serious mental illness, and those at higher risk of complications— should be released while their legal cases are being processed.
Assure immigrants access to medical attention without fear of arrest and protect those most vulnerable to serious illness. Sign the petition. Everyone deserves access to medical care, especially during an outbreak: http://bit.ly/NNIRRCovid19HealthAccessforAll
State Action Toolkit for a Refugee and Immigrant Inclusive Response to COVID-19 – from the Immigration and Refugee Program of Church World Service.
Release Immigrants in Detention – Detention Watch Network (DWN) “Amid an ongoing global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can and should immediately release all people from custody. Public health experts agree that the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to promote good hygiene with proper and frequent hand washing, and to practice social distancing. People locked up in immigration detention are extremely vulnerable to the spread of infectious disease due to restrictions on their freedom of movement, deteriorating health while in detention, physical proximity to others who may be infected, and ICE’s track record of inadequate medical care and access to sanitation supplies. ICE must immediately release all detained immigrants to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
- Free Them All Toolkit — a toolkit for local organizers
- DWN’s Action Guide for Digital Week of Action (Mar. 30 – April 4)
“The Families First Coronavirus Response Act will provide free testing to those who need it, expand access to temporary paid sick and family leave, increase funding for nutrition assistance, unemployment insurance and Medicaid, and ensure protections for health care workers. The Families First legislation takes some critical first steps in expanding paid sick leave and family leave during this national crisis. This proposal is a first step towards making sure we have a family focused response in this crisis and not just a Wall Street focused response.
Ensure all people, regardless of immigration status, have access to care and support during the Covid-19 pandemic – A Joint petition to President Trump
Organizational Sign-on to Department of Justice: Stop Federal Immigrant Prosecutions
- ‘A work in progress’: Refugees, migrants must have vaccine access, UN says
- COVID-19 Does Not Discriminate; Nor Should Our Response – UN Network on Migration (March 20, 2020)
- The rights and health of refugees, migrants and stateless must be protected in COVID-19 response – International Agencies – OHCHR, IOM, UNHCR and WHO joint press release (March 31, 2020)
- Urgent action needed to prevent COVID-19 “rampaging through places of detention” – Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
- First, Save Lives: Solutions for the COVID-19 Pandemic and New Solidarity with Migrants and Refugees – Civil Society Action Committee (an international alliance)
- Migrants Rights and Health Must Be Protected in the Face of Covid-19 – Zeid Raad Al Hussein, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, April 9, 2020, in The Hill.
- Statement of Feminists and Women’s Rights Organizations from the Global South and marginalized communities in the Global North – endorsed by NNIRR
- From Crisis to a New Social Compact: An inclusive, intersectional feminist approach is the only way out of the COVID crisis by Women in Migration Network (WIMN) —NNIRR is a member of WIMN
- DHS Statement on Equal Access to COVID-19 Vaccines and Vaccine Distribution Sites
- Covid-19 Has Changed Everything – A blog by NNIRR Board Member, Gerald Lenoir, Identity and Politics Strategy Analyst with Othering and Belonging Institute
- Undocumented U.S. Immigrants and Covid-19 – A commentary by Kathleen R. Page, M.D., Maya Venkataramani, M.D., Chris Beyrer, M.D., M.P.H., and Sarah Polk, M.D., M.H.S. in The New England Journal of Medicine