In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on immigrant families, the Rian Immigrant Center and 12 other partner organizations came together to form the Massachusetts Immigrant Collaborative (MIC) (formerly the Boston Immigrant COVID-19 Collaborative (BICC)). Immigrants are the backbone of support for the City of Boston and its surrounding communities. Many immigrants were struck by losing their jobs and having little-to-no access to benefits or healthcare. The focus of BICC’s partner organizations immediately shifted to meet the needs of its diverse communities. The purpose of the collaboration is to address immigrant families’ most urgent needs by providing direct financial relief and other resources. Joining forces has allowed MIC to serve more than 13,000 immigrants since April 13, 2020.
The Immigrant Community’s Need
While it is uncertain how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last, we do know that long-term impacts from the public health and economic crisis will significantly affect already underrepresented populations such as immigrants. Many immigrants work in essential roles in restaurants, grocery stores, cleaning services, childcare, healthcare and more. Many jobs in those industries have been cut. For those that are still able to work, there is no safety net if they or someone in their family becomes ill and cannot work. Although the federal government has provided financial assistance to those in need, many tax-paying immigrants are not eligible for these benefits. Even some U.S. Citizens and immigrants with status are not able to receive the stimulus tax rebate because their head of household is ineligible (mixed status families). In addition, the income insecurity affects more than 30,000 people without immigration status in Boston alone. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for Unemployment Insurance or the Pandemic Unemployment Insurance through the CARES Act. In the midst of one of the national hotspots for COVID-19 cases, 7% of immigrants in Boston do not have health insurance.