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Groups Raise COVID-19 Relief Fund to Aid Undocumented in MA

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The 275,000 undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts don't qualify for unemployment benefits, state of federal relief, putting them in a tough position in the COVID-19 pandemic. (Massachusetts Jobs with Justice Labor Day 2019/Facebook)
The 275,000 undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts don't qualify for unemployment benefits, state of federal relief, putting them in a tough position in the COVID-19 pandemic. (Massachusetts Jobs with Justice Labor Day 2019/Facebook)
 By Laura Rosbrow-Telem - Producer, Contact
March 26, 2020

BOSTON -- A new fund is launching to support immigrants facing COVID-19 in Massachusetts, since they're ineligible for most state and federal assistance.

MassUndocuFund for COVID-19 Relief is trying to raise $1 million to support undocumented people struggling with the virus or the related economic hardship in the Bay State.

According to the Pew Research Center, Massachusetts has about 275,000 undocumented residents, who don't qualify for unemployment benefits or other state and federal aid.

Yessenia Prodero, an immigrant rights organizer for Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, says the need is great.

"We're just trying to give a little bit of a safety net to people that don't have a safety net at all," she states. "A lot of people are cleaning offices and come in at night, and you don't see them. It's just all the invisible work."

Groups that helped organize the MassUndocuFund include Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, Matahari Women Workers' Center, the Restaurant Opportunities Center and One Fair Wage. People can find more information or donate online at massundocufund.org.

Prodero says by Monday, folks who are undocumented can start applying for assistance by calling in to a secure hotline -- and by next Friday, MassUndocuFund expects to be sending checks. She stresses the group won't ask for much identifying information, so it doesn't put applicants at further risk.

"People normally don't sign up for things even if they are eligible because they're afraid of where the information is going to go," she points out. "We're not going to be asking to send us a picture of their ID or anything like that. We want to make sure that the people that are receiving the funds are safe."

Prodero says the MassUndocuFund for COVID-19 Relief will try to give out money on a week-by-week basis, sending checks at the end of each week if they can, until the COVID-19 crisis subsides.

The group estimates that, if it raises a $1 million, it will assist about 3,000 families and individuals.

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