Student Opinion: Undocumented Immigrants Once Again Excluded from Relief Aid

(Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

By Michelle Moreno Lira

The pandemic has affected everyone’s lives, not just Americans in the U.S.. Despite Democrats pushing for more inclusion with the stimulus check, undocumented immigrants will again be left out of financial help. 

It seems as if the U.S. has excluded undocumented immigrants from the list of people financially affected by the pandemic. Although most undocumented workers pay taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), they’re not reaping the benefits of a stimulus check that was partially funded by taxpayers’ money.

It’s incredibly unfair for the U.S. government to exclude undocumented people from financial help when Latinx and Black people suffer the most. Latinx and Black people face greater risks than any other race in the U.S. of contracting the virus and dying from it. 

A stimulus check would allow many undocumented individuals to take time off work when necessary, buy items such as disinfectant sprays to prevent infection and have access to so many necessities during a time of need. 

It’s no doubt that most of our undocumented immigrants working in the fields, working domestic jobs or business workers are hit the hardest by the pandemic. Many of them have experienced layoffs, paycheck cuts and other financial hardships that make them more vulnerable to financial setbacks. 

Undocumented workers deserve to be included in the stimulus check because of their contributions to the U.S. economy; they’ve continued working during the pandemic and have risked their lives to provide services for thousands of Americans. Excluding them because of their undocumented status is inhumane. 

Being an undocumented immigrant doesn’t exclude you from the pandemic or its effects. Latinx and Hispanic individuals are being hospitalized the most because of the virus; most of them don’t have health insurance and are forced to pay their bills out of pocket. It’s frustrating that their undocumented status will justify the American government from leaving out hundreds of hard-working individuals on the front lines of the virus. 

In May, through the Direct Relief Assistance for Immigrants program (DRAI), organizations in California helped around 150,000 undocumented individuals from receiving a one-time $500 financial assistance. Organizations offered the only financial relief available to undocumented people, and although it’s a wonderful thing, it didn’t reach every undocumented person in need of financial help. 

Programs like DRAI don’t have enough funds to help every individual needing financial assistance and over two million undocumented people in California are affected. The U.S. government has refused to help undocumented immigrants, leaving room for organizations to raise the necessary funds to give out food assistance, financial aid and other assistance to undocumented communities. It’s a running theme for the U.S. government to hand down their responsibilities to other people and ignore relevant problems within society. 

Many people refuse to acknowledge that undocumented immigrants pay billions in taxes using ITINs. Most of their tax money funds many programs and benefits that they will never benefit from. It’s unreasonable to exclude them from retirement benefits, food assistance programs and other assistance programs that are only available to ‘Americans.’

It’s upsetting that so many undocumented individuals will have to struggle to seek help from organizations and programs willing to assist. Once again, society, taking advantage of their hard work and need for a better life, excludes them. 

Undocumented immigrants are already excluded from parts of society because of their status and race. As a country, we show them that they’re not worthy of being helped because their status separates them from us and makes them unavailable to receive aid. 

I can only hope that outside help from organizations and programs are willing to help them once again. They deserve benefits and support after providing many services for hundreds of Americans. 

Michelle Moreno is a fourth-year majoring in English and minoring in Chicano Studies. She is from Downtown Los Angeles.

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