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Recipients of the PA Immigrant Relief Fund through Project Libertad's work in Norristown. Photo credit: Project Libertad
Recipients of the PA Immigrant Relief Fund through Project Libertad's work in Norristown. Photo credit: Project Libertad

Pennsylvania immigrants rights groups launch fund for immigrants amid COVID-19

A goal of $4 million raised and 5,000 individuals helped statewide has been set for the fund by June 30, 2020.

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Back in mid-April, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced his state would tap into a $125 million relief fund to support its undocumented immigrant population amid the mass shutdowns and unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

California was the first state in the country to offer a program specifically for immigrants, who were ineligible for any benefit under the federal government’s CARES Act.

A little more than a month later, and Pennsylvania nonprofits geared towards immigrant rights are imitating California with an immigrant fund of their own.

The PA Immigrant Relief Fund started with a $500,000 gift from the Douty Foundation of Philadelphia and now features more than 40 organizations from across the state pooling donations towards the effort.

"The PA Immigrant Relief Fund is a powerful example of how philanthropy is responding to the immediate demands of one of our most vulnerable communities—those who have been excluded from federal COVID-19 relief programs due to their immigration status,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.

In its first round of assistance, the Philadelphia Foundation — which houses the fund — distributed funds to 30 organizations in the state that provided one-time $800 cash assistance to 580 individuals statewide.

As a goal, the PA Immigrant Relief Fund hopes to raise up to $4 million in relief to provide the same assistance to 5,000 individuals by June 30, 2020.

Potential donors are directed to contribute either to the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC) or to the PA is Ready! Fund through the Philadelphia Foundation

The hashtag #ShareYourCheck is also being shared on social media encouraging capable PA residents to donate all or parts of their federal stimulus checks for the cause. 

Organizers have yet to release application forms for potential participating organizations that will distribute the new funds, but will release more information about the process in the coming weeks.

This article is part of Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project among more than 20 news organizations, focused on economic mobility in Philadelphia. Read all of our reporting at brokeinphilly.org.

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