While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of everyone in countless ways, refugees and immigrants are one of the most heavily impacted communities. These working families have already experienced past trauma and persecution in their countries of origin. Now, they face the challenges of surviving during a global pandemic.
Arizona refugees and immigrants are the backbone of our state. Many work in hospitality, food service, and transportation—industries that have come to a complete halt due to social distancing. As a result, many have now lost their jobs, had their hours reduced, or suffered a loss of income. It is estimated that between 70-90% of refugees have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced in the last 30-60 days.
In addition to these economic hardships, many refugees and immigrants do not qualify for government relief funds, due to their arrival date in the US or their immigration status. Others are having challenges accessing already overburdened state and local government benefits systems due to language and cultural barriers. Furthermore, resettlement agencies, refugee community leaders, and faith organizations are at their capacity. Our community is struggling to keep up with the urgent needs of these families.
While some businesses slowly begin to reopen, long-term assistance for housing and other basic needs will continue to be needed. To meet these needs, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), We Are All America (WAAA), and 14 other community agencies are jointly launching the Arizona Refugee Emergency Fund. The Arizona Refugee Emergency Fund will provide immediate emergency direct assistance for rent, utilities, childcare, food, and any other essential urgent needs for refugee and asylum-seeking families in Arizona. These mini-grants will help families until they are able to get back on their feet.
Refugees are counting on the generosity of our Arizona community during this time. #StepUpForRefugees and please donate today to the Arizona Refugee Emergency Fund! After donating, please consider sharing this page with your friends and family on Facebook and other social media.
The coalition of organizations that has launched the Arizona Refugee Emergency Fund includes: We Are All America, National Partnership for New Americans, International Rescue Committee in Arizona, Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, Somali Association of Arizona, Somali American United Council, Refugee and Immigrant Community Empowerment, Tucson Refugee Ministry, Merciful Refugee and Immigrant Services, Catholic Charities Community Services, Council on American Islamic Relations of Arizona, Democratic Republic of Congo Community of Arizona, Arizona Syrian Community, Iskashitaa Refugee Network, ELFA, and Mesa United Way.