by Anissa Durham

In the summer of 2021, after more than a year of pandemic-related employment loss, evictions, and food insecurity, for undocumented New Yorkers, the situation was even more challenging. Without access to government support, like stimulus checks and SNAP, primarily Black, Latinx, and Asian immigrants were left to figure out how to make ends meet. 

But, that’s when a government-supported effort to reach undocumented individuals in New York, partnered with local organizations to provide some kind of relief.  

On August 1, 2021, the Excluded Workers Fund began taking applications from mostly undocumented workers in New York who were ineligible to receive unemployment insurance — the relief was more than $15,000.  

The New York fund was a $2.1 billion program that allowed 130,000 immigrants to get compensation for lost work during the pandemic.  

But what was the result of this funding? 

That’s a question Poonam Gupta and Ash Sutherland had. They’re two of the eight authors of a new report, Expanding Inclusion in the Social Safety Net: Impacts of New Yorks Excluded Workers Fund, by the Urban Insitute, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit research organization that provides data and evidence to help advance upward mobility and equity, and the Immigration Research Initiative.

“Not many people were talking about those that weren’t getting the stimulus checks,” Sutherland, a senior policy analyst at the Immigration Research Initiative, says. “Everyone was just really happy that they were getting this money from the government and kind of living their lives while forgetting that this vulnerable population didn’t have that ability.” 

Gupta, a research associate at the Urban Institute, says because the immigrant and undocumented population in New York is often labeled hard to reach, there is a lack of data from this group. But, the report takes a deep dive into the impact of this funding, who benefited from it, and why funding like this needs to continue.  

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