Chicago mayor signs order ensuring immigrants, refugees have access to COVID-19 relief provided by city

Chicago mayor signs order ensuring immigrants, refugees have access to COVID-19 relief provided by city

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) has signed an executive order to ensure that refugee and immigrant communities have equal access to benefits and services provided by the city, including COVID-19 disaster relief. 

“This order is more than just an official decree, it is a statement of our values as a city and as Americans,” she said in a statement on Tuesday. “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,” she added.

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Under the executive order, Lightfoot’s office said all residents in the city, regardless of their birthplace or citizenship status, will have access to the city’s newly-established COVID-19 Housing Assistance Grant program and online resources offered through Chicago public schools for students, among other benefits.

Michael Rodriguez, who serves as alderman of the 22nd Ward in Chicago, praised Lightfoot for the move in a statement, while pointing to coronavirus relief legislation recently passed by Congress that will give relief checks to most Americans but not nonresident aliens and people who don’t have Social Security numbers.

"Not all of Chicago's residents qualify for federal stimulus checks, state unemployment insurance or other economic assistance due to their documentation status,” Rodriguez said. “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,” he added.

George Cardenas, alderman for Chicago’s 12th Ward, also commended the mayor for the executive order in a statement.

“Most individuals in our immigrant community labor in industries pummeled by the COVID-19 crisis, such as restaurants and hotels,” he said. “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.” 

“I thank Mayor Lightfoot for ensuring that everyone in Chicago has somewhere to turn to for support,” he added.