City Signs Order to Protect Immigrant, Refugee Communities During COVID-19

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - HealthOn Tuesday, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot signed an executive order guaranteeing that all benefits and services provided or administered by the City of Chicago are available to all residents, regardless of citizenship status. “This order is more than just an official decree, it is a statement of our values as a city and as Americans,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Since COVID-19 first reached our city’s doorstep, we have been working around the clock to ensure all our residents are secure and supported, including our immigrant and refugee communities, who are among the most vulnerable to the impact of this pandemic. Here in Chicago, saying ‘we are all in this together’ means that during this crisis, no one gets left out and no one gets left behind.”

This new order will ensure that all Chicagoans have a fair advantage to access to services provided by the City to help vulnerable communities fight the COVID-19 pandemic. “Not all of Chicago’s residents qualify for federal stimulus checks, state unemployment insurance or other economic assistance due to their documentation status,” said 22nd Ward Alderman Michael D. Rodriguez. “These Chicagoans are vital community members who work in various industries and help our great city to thrive every day. These Chicagoans are our family members, co-workers, neighbors and friends. I applaud the Mayor for standing with undocumented individuals and families to ensure their eligibility for any economic assistance offered by the City of Chicago during this global pandemic.”

To address the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic poses to Chicago’s communities, including its immigrant community, the City of Chicago has implemented numerous programs to aid all residents during this extraordinarily challenging time, including:

• Establishing the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Grant program, which provides disaster relief aid for the housing costs faced by individuals and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic;

• Offering online Enrichment Learning Resources through Chicago Public Schools for all students at all levels, so that each student, regardless of immigration status, can continue to pursue a top-notch education; and

• Starting a $100 million Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund to provide small businesses with disaster relief cash flow during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is available to any entrepreneur, including immigrant business owners.

“Most individuals in our immigrant community labor in industries pummeled by the COVID-19 crisis, such as restaurants and hotels. Although many of these workers collectively pay billions of dollars in taxes, they are excluded from the federal aid package signed by Congress. We must meet this moment together; no one should be excluded,” said 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas.

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