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How COVID-19 is impacting undocumented immigrants in America

  • ICE runs 112 deportation flights between March and April

    ICE ran 112 flights to deport undocumented immigrants to 13 countries between early March and late April, according to the Center for Economic Policy and Research. Some flights included passengers who had tested positive for COVID-19, according to Freedom for Immigrants.

  • Detainees at ICE facilities lead at least 40 protests against poor conditions

    Freedom for Immigrants has counted at least “40 instances of internal organizing” among immigrants detained at facilities run by ICE during the pandemic. They used petitions, hunger strikes, open letters, and other strategies to draw attention to unsanitary conditions and medical neglect at the facilities.

  • Workers at meatpacking plants contract COVID-19

    More than 10,000 workers at meatpacking plants in the United States had contracted the coronavirus and dozens had died of COVID-19 as of May 25, according to Adam Gabbatt of The Guardian. Undocumented immigrants comprise 30%–50% of all meatpacking workers, according to Brett Orrell of the American Enterprise Institute.

  • Trump stops issuing new green cards for 60 days

    President Trump suspended the issuance of new green cards, also known as immigrant visas, to people in foreign countries for 60 days starting on April 22, with some exceptions. The measure made little impact at first, as the State Department had already suspended its international visa services on March 20. However, if Trump’s proclamation is renewed after the State Department resumes regular service, it may prevent approximately 315,000 immigrants from entering the U.S., according to Muzaffar Chishti and Jessica Bolter of Migration Policy Institute.

  • The UN temporarily suspends resettlement travel for refugees

    The United Nations temporarily suspended its efforts to resettle refugees from their homelands to other countries on March 17, in response to the pandemic. The United States added its own travel restrictions three days later that permitted border patrol agents to stop asylum seekers from coming into the country to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, which is against international law, according to Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees.


  • Most undocumented immigrants live in states hit hardest by COVID-19

    Nearly 60% of the estimated 10.5 million undocumented immigrants in the United States live in New York, Illinois, Florida, California, Texas, and New Jersey according to Carolina Moreno of Refinery 29. These states are among the top 10 that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • US citizens married to immigrants do not receive stimulus checks

    The federal government did not send the $1,200 stimulus checks from the coronavirus relief package to U.S. citizens whose spouses are immigrants that don’t have Social Security numbers, according to Aimee Picchi of CBS News. An Illinois resident has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, alleging that the restrictions on the stimulus checks infringe on the “right to marry and discriminate based on ‘alienage’,” according to Danny Cevallos of NBC News.

  • California and New York offer free COVID-19 testing to undocumented immigrants

    New York and California have been providing free COVID-19 testing for all of their residents, regardless of citizenship, according to Carolina Moreno of Refinery29. However, undocumented immigrants may still face other barriers that make it difficult to access the medical tests. New Jersey, for example, offers free COVID-19 testing to all residents, but requires proof of identification, such as a passport, according to Raymond G. Lahoud of Norris McLaughlin Attorneys at Law.

  • States and cities launch relief programs for undocumented workers affected by COVID-19

    California was the first state in the nation to provide aid to undocumented immigrants through a $125 million fund, collected from philanthropists and state donations, according to Carolina Moreno of Refinery29. A handful of other states and cities have announced similar aid for undocumented immigrants. New York City, for example, announced in mid-April a new $20 million COVID-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief program, which was created through a partnership between Open Society Foundations, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, and the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. It will provide relief to 20,000 immigrant workers.

  • Border Patrol agents return migrants to Mexico faster than usual

    New coronavirus prevention measures have hastened the time it takes the U.S. Border Patrol to expel migrants back to Mexico after they’ve crossed the border, according to Nick Miroff of The Washington Post. Migrants from Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala are now being processed “in the field" and sent back to Mexico—sans medical exam—within 96 minutes, on average.


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