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Central Texas immigrants cope with COVID-19

Posted at 10:39 AM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 11:39:29-04

WACO, TX — Undocumented and immigrant families in Texas have been hit hard by the pandemic and are excluded from state and federal financial assistance programs.

As stimulus money starts hitting bank accounts, about 8% of the state's workforce won't get receive relief.

An estimated 1.6 million undocumented immigrants live in Texas, and they're facing tough decisions during the pandemic.

"Because of SB4 there is a real fear in the community about reaching out for help. That has been a challenge that we face in general. People have to choose between feeding their children and keeping their lights on or risking the security and life they've built for themselves," said Hope Balfa Mustakim, Founder of Waco Immigrants Alliance.

WIA says there's approximately 14,000 undocumented residents in the Waco area.

A social security number is required to receive the stimulus money or small business loans so only citizens and some immigrants with work authorization will get help.

That's why the Texas Undocu Worker Emergency Fund through the Workers Defense Project was created.

Over 2,000 applications have already poured in and the fund is seeking more donations to fill the need.

"We're hoping our city might follow the lead of other cities that are starting to designate funds for populations that are falling through the cracks. Not just undocumented but other folks too," said Balfa Mustakim.

La Puerta Waco established a hotline to help, and local schools are offering meals and technology to students no matter their citizenship status.

"Waco is a great place where we take care of each other so I'm staying positive that those things are going to come to fruition," said Balfa Mustakim.