Chicago Announces Fund to Pay Undocumented Immigrants, Others Left Out of Federal Coronavirus Relief

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday a new fund that will give $1,000 per household to Chicago residents - including undocumented immigrants, college students and more - who were excluded from federal coronavirus relief payments that were distributed earlier this year.

Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the federal government in mid-April began making payments of $1,200 to millions of Americans who have a social security number and earned less than $75,000 per year based on their 2019 tax filing. Millions of undocumented immigrants, many who pay taxes using what’s known as a taxpayer identification number, were among those excluded from this relief program.

More than 300,000 Chicago residents, including undocumented individuals, mixed-status families, dependent adults, college students and more, were left out of the federal aid program, Lightfoot said.

"As expansive as the CARES Act may be, it leaves behind thousands of our residents, many residents who represent our essential workers and are themselves members of the very same community hardest hit by COVID-19," Lightfoot said at a news conference announcing the new fund.

The "Chicago Resiliency Fund" cash assistance program will provide up to $5 million in payments to those who qualify in partnership with nonprofit organization The Resurrection Project. Issuances of those payments will begin in mid-June, Lightfoot said.

"Throughout COVID-19, but really way beyond that, our immigrant and refugee community have really been stressed," Lightfoot said, before taking a shot at President Donald Trump.

"Always because it's a difficult life to leave your home country and come some place new and really try to start building a life, but it's been particularly challenging in this environment, with this president who literally came down the stairs, what now seems like a lifetime ago, demonizing our immigrant and refugee community for his own political gain and unfortunately he has not stopped," she said.

"But in Chicago, we have a very different view," Lightfoot continued. "In Chicago, we will always be a strong, open, welcoming community to immigrants and refugees from every part of our globe because that's how we are a strong global city. Our diversity is our strength and we will never abandon those values."

Open Society Foundations, a philanthropic organization founded by billionaire George Soros, donated $1 million to the fund, the city said. An anonymous donor gave another $4 million, the single-largest contribution, to the effort.

More information on the Chicago Resiliency Fund, including how to apply, can be found here.

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