Skip to content

Immigrant rights in times of COVID-19

An unprecedented number of people need economic and other support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal and state governments have enacted a number of emergency programs to supplement existing social safety net support. Immigrants need answers to two key questions:

  • Does my immigration status affect my eligibility for help?
  • Will participating affect opportunities for getting a Green Card or other benefits?

This is a quick summary of the principal rights and benefits that immigrants can access – regardless of immigration status.

Constitutional Rights

All persons in the U.S. have protected constitutional rights. Immigration status does not affect these rights:

  • Right to remain silent
  • Right to refuse a search without a warrant
  • Right to an attorney

Everyone should carry a Know your Rights ‘Red Card,’ and know how to use it if they encounter ICE officers.

Emergency Medicaid

  • COVID-19 testing and medical care are covered
  • Immigration status not relevant

Emergency food assistance for children

  • Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program
    • All families with a child enrolled in a reduced price or free school lunch program are eligible
  • Immigration status not relevant

Temporary renters’ protections

  • Emergency decree – temporary protection from eviction for non-payment of rent during April-May-June
  • Immigration status not relevant

Worker protections

  • Unemployment Insurance, PUA (self-employed), economic stimulus payments
    • Must have SSN and work authorization to be eligible
  • Immigration status not relevant, BUT mixed status families are excluded from stimulus payments

U.S. 2020 Census

  • Every person has the right to be counted – for the benefit of the community
  • “All 2020 Census responses are kept confidential and private. It’s the law. Your responses cannot be shared and cannot be used against you by any government agency or court in any way,” per the Census Bureau.
Scroll To Top