Private fund provides cash assistance to undocumented immigrants and families in Pa.

In 2016, the Pew Research Center estimated there were 170,000 undocumented immigrants in Pennsylvania

  • Alanna Elder

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(Harrisburg) — Advocacy groups around Pennsylvania are providing cash assistance to undocumented immigrants and their families. Many households with mixed immigration status could not access the federal government’s $1200 payments.

If a head of household’s filed last year’s tax returns with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, instead of a social security number, the family was ineligible for CARES Act funding. The same is true for other safety-net benefits, such as unemployment insurance.

The PA Immigrant Relief Fund is divided into $800 disbursements for 580 families. Sundrop Carter, who leads the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizen Coalition, said the process for getting this money varies, depending on the community.

“The best thing people can do is get involved with their local community organization, because those organizations are the ones that can give them assistance on many different levels, even if there’s insufficient funding to go around,” she said.

Carter said some organizations had waitlists of 50 to 100 people even before the funds were raised. Most of the money has already gone out to families but she said it is far from enough.

“We’re barely scratching the surface, and really the solution to this issue is to make sure that our elected officials at the local, state, and federal level are making sure that everyone is included in public assistance.,” she said

In 2016, the Pew Research Center estimated there were 170,000 undocumented immigrants in Pennsylvania. About 24,000 U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents in the state have spouses who are undocumented, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

Members of mixed-status families who do have social security numbers can apply for state-level emergency funding.

Carter hopes to see a second round of private funding in mid- to late June.

Alanna is part of the Report for America program — a national service effort that places journalists in newsrooms across the country to report on under-covered topics and communities.

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