FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2020
CONTACT: Sam Yu | email@example.com | 213-703-0992 (NAKASEC)
Michelle Liang | firstname.lastname@example.org (NAKASEC Action Fund)
1400 undocumented folx came to us for help in COVID-19 – we need the HEROES Act now!
Asian American advocacy organization NAKASEC received 1400 requests for assistance from undocumented individuals, which we will be sharing with Congress to advocate for the HEROES Act.
Chicago, IL – Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) received over 1400 requests for cash assistance from undocumented folx, who have received no relief from the federal government. After so many emails and phone calls from undocumented folx in need, we feel stronger than ever the need for strong congressional advocacy and urgent social change. In March, we established a COVID-19 mutual aid relief fund to aid undocumented folx who live paycheck to paycheck, cannot work from home, have been laid off, provide for their families, and/or have other immediate financial needs. In just two months, NAKASEC raised $76,000 for its COVID-19 mutual aid relief fund and helped over 150 undocumented families in 11 different states.
Throughout the next few weeks, the NAKASEC network will also be amplifying the stories of its COVID-19 mutual aid fund’s recipients to U.S. Senators in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Texas, where our leaders are based. We seek the Senators’ leadership in divesting in institutions that perpetuate violence against communities of color and investing instead in undocumented communities through passing the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES) Act, which would expand stimulus checks, no-cost COVID-19 testing and treatment, and unemployment insurance to undocumented folx. In the meantime, we are organizing a letter from Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations to express these cross-coalition demands.
Lyra Kim, undocumented NAKASEC leader who helped organized the COVID-19 relief fund, said:
“When the U.S. government turned its back on our most vulnerable community members, 220 donors and seven foundations stepped up and proved that our community is one that will take care of each other..”
Joan, recipient of NAKASEC’s COVID-19 mutual aid relief fund, student, and single mother, wrote to us to express her gratitude:
“The fund I received helped me a lot, not just financially, but also emotionally and spiritually…in a way that I learned there are many good people who care for others in need, and act to help those people in need. Things were not that easy … I was having hard time ... I was not eligible to receive any benefit due to my status. It was very frustrating that people who are undocumented and having hardship are not eligible to get any government supported benefit, while we really needed some sort of help to overcome this time … I wish I can become a person like you in the future, who cares for the people in the community, especially minority people who need help.”
Stories like Joan’s highlight severe shortcomings of the past three congressional relief packages. All three congressional relief packages, amounting to trillions of dollars in total, exclude undocumented folx from relief provisions like cash assistance and unemployment insurance. We will be seeking meetings with Sens. Kaine and Warner (VA), Toomey and Casey (PA), Durbin and Duckworth (IL), and Cruz and Cornyn (TX) to uplift these stories and ask for their leadership for communities of color, including Black communities and other marginalized global communities.
Leading national Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations – including Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO, HANA Center, MinKwon Center for Community Action, National CAPACD, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium , South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Woori Center, and others – joined in a letter to express concerns about the country’s continuing investments in institutions that perpetuate hatred. As immigrants and communities of color, we are asking Congress to divest from institutions that perpetuate hate, including law and immigration enforcement and other domestic and overseas militarization projects (including a $38 billion package to militarize Israel). We ask them to instead invest in our communities through the HEROES Act and the Movement 4 Black Lives’ policy demands.
The cross-coalition letter to Congress that NAKASEC is organizing states:
“We will no longer stand for the allocation of taxpayer money to institutions that perpetuate hate, such as domestic and overseas militarization projects that harm our communities. Congress has a moral and fiscal responsibility to defund law and immigration enforcement, defund the 1033 program, and stop the passage of $38 billion intended for the continuing militarization of Israel. As immigrants and people of color, we oppose this untimely, insensitive, and improper use of billions of taxpayer dollars. We call instead for financial investment in our communities- Our undocumented communities, consisting of 11 million individuals in this country, have been disproportionately harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic and excluded from almost all forms of congressional relief thus far.”
Now more than ever, as we are suffering from a global pandemic and racial crisis, the time has come for Congress to reorganize its priorities and show its solidarity for all people of color and immigrants by divesting from institutions that perpetuate hate and investing in our communities.
Founded in 1994, the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)’s mission is to organize Korean and Asian Americans to achieve social, economic, and racial justice. NAKASEC maintains offices in Annandale, Virginia, Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California. NAKASEC has affiliates in Chicago (HANA Center), Los Angeles and Orange County (Korean Resource Center), Philadelphia (Woori Center), and Virginia (NAKASEC VA).