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The Forgotten Frontline Workers

"School Social Workers Respond to Needs of Undocumented Immigrants"

by Martha Rodriguez, LCSW, Service Manager, Recovery, Broward County Public Schools

We are all humans, right? Then the treatment we give the undocumented must reflect our values as a country. It is no mystery undocumented workers are left out of any relief efforts during the Covid-19 health crisis. Social Workers will face many challenges supporting this vulnerable population. Below is a list consisting of several challenges undocumented communities may encounter as well as 5 resources and actions, we can take to help this vulnerable group during our current health crisis.

1 Community Led Relief Funds

One of the unique challenges the Front-Line workers will face during the pandemic is that without legal status and despite paying taxes and often working in critical sectors they will not be eligible for emergency assistance, and/or relief funds. Yet, many nonprofit organizations, foundations, and, community led relief funds are raising money to provide emergency assistance to such residents in an effort to support these forgotten frontline workers. Nakasec, The National Partnership for New Americans, Grant Makers Concerned with Immigrant and Refugees, and the Funders Together to End Homelessness are some of the groups who have organized to advocate and provide relief funds to vulnerable communities during this time.

2 Eviction Support and Resources

What can Social Workers do to help families whom may be evicted during this time? Social workers should advise their families of the executive orders issued by their perspective state governors suspending home foreclosures and evictions. However, these orders and timelines can and will continue to change, I therefore encourage Social Workers to become informed daily as to any updates. For evictions, the orders may only specify tenants may not be removed for nonpayment, indicating evictions for other reasons will still be in bounds. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition is doing a fantastic job at offering resources and support to families who are facing difficulties during COVID-19 as well as information on memorandum’s based on where you live.

Several protections are in place to prevent evictions across the nation. However, these policies do not forgive the rent you may owe, that is why Social Workers are fighting for further relief.

We recently have heard a lot of information regarding COVID-19 and Evictions: Your Landlord Should Not Try to Evict You. But what does this really mean?

Social Workers should know that a landlord cannot force you to leave your home without a court order. If an eviction is filed against you, you must respond to it. Have a discussion with the client you are serving and provide them with some helpful sources such as their local Legal Aid & Defender Association.

3 Legal Representation Assistance

Where can Social Workers find a list of resources including representation to help families?

I urge Social Workers to go visit NLADA.org here you will find information regarding Court Access & Virtual Operations, Pro Bono, and Self Help . The American Bar Association is also offering virtual clinics that provide free legal answers, each state has their own page were participants can go to and post their questions. Social Workers should explore the site to get more information on specifics details for participants to take advantage from these clinics.

Public Charge Rule

Many families who are in the process of getting a green card are fearful to get medical treatment during this time, concerned with the "public charge" rule what can you tell us about this?

The USCIS issued the following alert Social Workers should stay updated on this information as it can change. The USCIS has encouraged for individuals feeling ill to seek treatment and this treatment will not affect individuals negatively as it refers to the Public Charge Analysis. For more information I urge Social Workers to look at USCIS, Green Card Processes and Procedures.

4 Medical Assistance

What about fears of deportation when seeking medical attention?

The reality is that we will encounter families who fear deportation and will risk their lives, an