Help for Immigrant Families During COVID-19

We are currently living during uncertain times due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Millions of people have been affected by falling ill, losing their jobs, and overall the uncertainty of not knowing when everything will get better. Amongst the ones affected are immigrant families who have been struggling to receive medical assistance due to the financial burden it will cause and also not having access to financial resources due to their immigration status. Many have lost their jobs leaving them without any financial resources to stay afloat. They find themselves in desperate times not having the funds to buy food, pay their bills or their rent, just like many of us. 

Stimulus Check

In April, millions of Americans received a stimulus check of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. However, this stimulus bill did not include immigrant families or spouses of Unites States Citizens even though they pay billions in taxes each year. According to Americas Voice Education Fund, immigrants paid $405.4 billion in taxes in 2017, including an estimated $27.2 billion in taxes paid by undocumented immigrants. Immigrant families have found themselves at a loss and alone with the lack of resources they have to aid them during this pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI)

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the lack of resources the immigrant community has access to, California Governor Gavin Newsom, made a decision to help the immigrant community by providing financial assistance through the Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI).  California is providing state funded assistance one time to undocumented adults who are ineligible for other forms of assistance, including assistance under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and pandemic unemployment benefits, because of their immigration status. 

The California Department of Social Services has selected twelve immigrant-serving nonprofit organizations to help individuals apply for and receive this disaster relief assistance in their region. An undocumented adult who qualifies can receive $500 in direct assistance, with a maximum of $1000 in assistance per household.

This assistance means a lot for immigrant families. It is rewarding to witness our governor and many non-profit organizations coming together to aid the immigrant community during this pandemic crisis.

Frequently Asked Questions Answered by California’s Department of Social Services

Who do I contact to apply for the disaster relief assistance for immigrants?

If you live in the County of Los Angeles/Orange please contact:

  1. CHIRLA (213) 201-8700 or (213) 395-9547
  2. CARECEN (213) 315-2659 (LA County ONLY)

If you live in the County of San Bernardino/Riverside please contact:

  1. San Bernardino Community Service Center (909) 521-7535 or
  2. TODEC Legal Center (888) 863-3291

If you live in San Diego County please contact:

  1. Jewish Family Service Center of San Diego (760) 206-3242

If your county is not listed please visit this page to see the full list of organizations based on your county https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesou…/immigration/covid-19-drai.

How can I apply for assistance if I am undocumented?

CDSS published the list of the nonprofit organizations that were selected to administer the disaster relief assistance in the various regions of California here: COVID-19 Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants. Individuals who are interested in applying for this assistance should contact the nonprofit organization listed for their county from May 18- June 30th

Interested applicants must contact the organization for their county directly to inquire about assistance availability. The nonprofit organization will assist individuals with the application process, confirm their eligibility, and deliver a payment card to approved applicants. Applicants will be considered on a first come, first served basis.

Funding is limited, and disaster relief application services and assistance are not guaranteed.

How do I qualify for the Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI)?

Eligible individuals must be able to provide information that they:

(1) are an undocumented adult (person over the age of 18)

(2) are not eligible for federal COVID-19 related assistance, like the CARES Act tax stimulus payments or pandemic unemployment benefits; and,

(3) have experienced a hardship as a result of COVID-19.

What documents do I need to apply for DRAI?

You must provide information/documents to verify your:

  1. identity,
  2. home/mailing address,
  3. and show you have been affected by COVID-19. 

Contact the organizations listed for your county or region for more information about the application process and the documents required (CHIRLA).

Will receiving assistance from DRAI affect my possibility in obtaining my residency (green card) in the United States?

This disaster relief assistance is not means-tested and is one-time assistance. The federal government does not list this assistance as a public benefit for a public charge consideration. However, USCIS has not issued specific guidance related to this assistance.

If there are questions about immigration status and this assistance project, please contact Franco Law Group at 213.200.1505 to schedule your consultation with an immigration attorney. Consultation is offered at a discounted price of $25.

If I am approved for DRAI how will I receive the funds?

If a person is found eligible and their application is approved, the nonprofit organization that helped them apply will provide additional information on how they will receive their payment card either through in-person pick-up or through the mail.

When is the last day to apply for DRAI?

Applicants will be considered on a first come, first served basis. The $75 million in direct assistance will be distributed to individuals with approved applications beginning on May 18, 2020, until the funding is spent or until June 30, 2020, at the latest.

Adelanto and Otay Mesa Detention Centers During COVID-19

Immigrants held at detention centers such as the Adelanto Detention Center and the Otay Mesa Detention Center live in fear for their lives for being at risk of contracting the Coronavirus due to the tight quarters they find themselves in. Many of them have health issues and do not have access to quality medical resources to protect them if they were to fall ill with COVID-19. 

On May 6, 2020, CBS 8 reported the 1st COVID-19 related death of a detainee at the Otay Mesa Detention Center.  According to NBC Bay Area on May 15, 2020, ICE listed on their website that there are 149 infected detainees at the Otay Mesa Detention Center, the highest known in the country’s sprawling network of immigrant detention facilities.

According to the agency, the Adelanto Detention Center, reported 4 detainees with COVID-19. On May 14, 2020, an employee with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) working at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center tested positive for COVID-19.

To protect the health of immigrant detainees at detention centers nationwide and more specifically the Adelanto Detention Center and the Otay Mesa Detention Center, civil rights organizations such as the Human Right’s Watch, ACLU, and the National Immigrant Justice have pressured ICE and federal judges to release detainees in order to protect their health.

Thanks to their efforts on May 5, 2020, a federal judge ordered immigration officials to immediately reduce the number of detainees at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Desert Sun

Due to the loss of the 57 asylum seeker that died at the Otay Mesa Detention Center due to COVID-19, a San Diego federal judge ordered that a group of “medically vulnerable” detainees at the Otay Mesa Detention Center be screened for release amid the COVID-19 outbreak at the facility (CBS 8).  

We have to continue pressuring ICE agencies and federal judges to continue releasing detainees in order to protect their lives.

How to contact a family member that is detained at the Adelanto or the Otay Mesa Detention Center?

If you have a family member detained at the Adelanto Detention Center this is how you may get in contact with them:

If you need information about a detainee that is housed at this facility, you may call (760) 561-6100 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. When you call, please have the individual’s biographical information ready, including first, last and hyphenated names, any aliases he or she may use, date of birth and country of birth.

If you need to get in touch with a detainee you must call (866) 348-6231 and leave the detainee’s full name, alien registration number and a telephone number where you can be reached. He or she will be given your message.

Detainees cannot receive incoming calls. If you need to get in touch with a detainee to leave an urgent message, you must call (760) 561-6100 and leave the detainee’s full name, alien registration number and your name and telephone number where you can be reached. The detainee will be given your message (Adelanto Website).

If you have a family member detained at the Otay Mesa Detention Center this is how you may get in contact with them:

If you need information about a detainee that is housed at this facility, you may call (619) 671-8700 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. When you call, please have the individual’s biographical information ready, including first, last and hyphenated names, any aliases he or she may use, date of birth and country of birth.

Detainees cannot receive incoming calls. If you need to get in touch with a detainee to leave an urgent message, you must call (619) 671-8724 and leave the detainee’s full name, alien registration number and your name and telephone number where you can be reached. The detainee will be given your message (Otay Mesa Website).

Are you in need of an immigration attorney? 

If you or a loved one has been placed in immigration detention it is imperative that you consult with an immigration attorney as soon as possible. You may reach Franco Law Group at 213.200.1505 to schedule an appointment. Our office hours are Monday-Friday from 10 am to 6 pm.

Our attorneys have experience with detainee cases at the Adelanto and Otay Detention Centers, as well, as out of state detention centers. We have an office located in Los Angeles at 5601 E. Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90022 and in San Diego at 402 West Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101.

The Impact of the Coronavirus on Immigration

Coronavirus Impact

The Coronavirus has brought a lot of uncertainty and panic to our communities. Living in the unknown can truly be stressful and scary. For example, not knowing if you have been exposed to COVID19, not knowing when all this will get better, not knowing if tomorrow you will be told that there is no work, not knowing how you will pay your bills, and not knowing how you will feed your family. We have witnessed our communities go into extreme panic over supplies by stocking up because it is uncertain how long this pandemic will last. Walking into stores and seeing empty shelves has definitely been a scary sight. The Coronavirus is affecting many people financially (businesses closing or people losing their jobs) and emotionally. Our health care providers are putting their health at risk in order to treat individuals sick with the Coronavirus and all while Immigration Officers (ICE) continue to terrorize the immigrant community.

ICE Agents Detaining Individuals in the City of Bell Garden, CA

Recently the Los Angeles Times reported that ICE agents targeted residents from the City of Bell Gardens, CA to complete their deportation orders. These agents are completely ignoring the restrictions by the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, to prevent and contain the spread of the Coronavirus. The ICE agents stated that they are taking precautions and have the resources to protect themselves from the virus but that won’t stop them from “protecting the public by getting these criminal aliens off the street and out of our communities,” said David Marin, the director of Enforcement and Removal Operations for ICE in L.A (LA Times). It is utterly disturbing how ICE agents continue to torment, terrorize and prey on individuals at a very vulnerable time for our communities. ICE agents are literally monitoring when a person leaves their home to figure out a good time to catch them out of their homes. Many people are worried and scared about getting infected, having a roof over their heads, and feeding their families. The last thing they think about when they are running out of their homes to buy food or go to work is getting detained by ICE.

On Monday, it was announced that the US Consulate in Ciudad Juárez and all US embassies in Mexico will be closed as of March 18, 2020.  Immigration offices in Los Angeles are also closing but ICE agents have lost their sense of humanity and continue to torment the immigrant community during this most vulnerable time. The City of Bell Gardens has reached out to Congresswoman Lucille-Roybal to advocate and demand that ICE agents stop their deportation orders given the vulnerable state the community is facing.

Know your Rights

Please remember that you still have your 5th Amendment rights under the United States Constitution, which are the following:

  1. The right to remain silent
  2. The right to an attorney

If an agent arrives to your home please remember:

  1. Do Not Open the Door
  2. Remain silent, you do not need to answer any questions
  3. Do Not sign any documentation

Please know that no one can enter your home without a warrant signed by a Superior Court Judge.

SWAT Agents being deployed to Sanctuary Cities to Serve Deportation Orders

It is insane and absurd the measures this administration is taking to continue terrorizing the immigrant community. According to the New York Times, “Among the agents being deployed to sanctuary cities are members of the elite tactical unit known as BORTAC, which acts essentially as the SWAT team of the Border Patrol. With additional gear such as stun grenades and enhanced Special Forces-type training, including sniper certification, the officers typically conduct high-risk operations targeting individuals who are known to be violent, many of them with extensive criminal records.” Is this really necessary? Does this administration really see immigrants as a danger to this country?

 

Even former commissioner of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and former chief of police in Seattle, Gil Kerlikoswke, labeled this attempt as “a significant mistake”, and continued to state, “If you were a police chief and you were going to make an apprehension for a relatively minor offense, you don’t send the SWAT team, they’re trained for much more hazardous missions than this” (New York Times).

 

It is unbelievable to witness the persecution of immigrants when all they want is the best for their families and achieve the “American Dream.” During this terrible climate, one can’t help but to think of the Holocaust, where Jews were persecuted with severe brutality.

 

If you are living in a sanctuary city such as: Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, New Orleans, Detroit and Newark, N.J. please remain calm and do not let the news scare you.

 

Please remember that you still have your 5th Amendment rights under the Unites States Constitution, which are the following:

  1. The right to remain silent
  2. The right to an attorney

 

If an agent arrives to your home please remember:

  1. Do Not Open the Door
  2. Remain silent, you do not need to answer any questions
  3. Do Not sign any documentation

 

Please know that no one can enter your home without a warrant signed by a Superior Court Judge.

 

 

To read the full story by The New York Times please visit: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/14/us/Border-Patrol-ICE-Sanctuary-Cities.html?smtyp=cur&smid=tw-nytimes

 

ICE Agent Shoots Innocent Man During Deportation Order

It is outrageous to see what ICE agents can get away with. Today an ICE agent shot an innocent 26 year old by the name of Eric Cruz who saw his neighbor being tackled to the ground. The ICE agent did not identify himself so Mr. Cruz went to his neighbor’s rescue where he was confronted by the agent and later shot in the face. This incident could have easily been prevented if the officer had identified himself.

ICE agents typically dress in casual attire without anything that identifies them as an ICE agent. Therefore, to most they look like normal people. In this incident that could have been the case where Eric Cruz thought his neighbor was being attacked by a normal everyday person.

To read or watch the full story by ABC News please visit: https://abc7.com/ice-agent-shoots-undocumented-man-in-face-brother-in-hand-in brooklyn/5908029/?ex_cid=TA_KABC_FB&utm_campaign=trueAnthem%3A+Trending+Content&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR3hWuCFQGu8YBPjC4v7Sy7b91gGmHHAJiWIUlsLcsTLMOyStIGvtj0Fils