aoc-raised-thousands-undocumented-people Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raised $66,000 on Instagram Live for undocumented immigrants.
Graphic via Desirée Tapia for The Americano

The funds are an effort to alleviate those who didn’t qualify for coronavirus relief from the government. 

As the pandemic continues to unfold, more than 10 million undocumented immigrants struggle to survive, both healthwise and financially. To the lack of in-person jobs most of them do to survive, not a single dime from the government’s $2 trillion stimulus relief package went into their pockets. So if the government won’t help such a wide range of Latino essential workers, who will? Many are stepping up to do what the government cannot, and one of them is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.

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The congresswoman casually chatted with her followers on Instagram Live, talked about SpongeBob SquarePants, and ate some ice-cream, all the while raising an estimated $66,000 for undocumented workers in less than one hour. 

“Everyone who just donated $1 or more during my IG livestream just now has officially just done more for essential workers who are undocumented than Mitch McConnell has all year,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “We hit over $60k for @NYSYLC tonight! Thank you!” 

The funds raised last night benefited the New York State Youth Leadership Council, the first undocumented youth-led non-profit organization in New York. Their GoFundme campaign, which began four months ago, has a goal of $300,000. So far, they’ve raised $245,476. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s Q&A featured Instagram’s “Live Donations.” The result was one of the most successful “Live Donations” fundraisers ever on the platform. 

“Undocumented folks do not have the same safety nets provided to other members of our community,” the organization states on their charity page. “Many undocumented people work in jobs that are most vulnerable to exposure to the virus and the shutdown. There is already limited access to healthcare, so undocumented people should have the resources to be able to take care of themselves.”

Aside from Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, California Gov. Gavin Newsom also provided funding to those left out of the government’s relief. On April 15, Newsom announced that the state would issue $75 million to provide financial support for immigrant workers affected by COVID-19 and another $50 million to support undocumented Californians. 

California is the most diverse state in the nation,” Governor Newsom said in a press statement. “Our diversity makes us stronger and more resilient. Every Californian, including our undocumented neighbors and friends, should know that California is here to support them during this crisis. We are all in this together.”

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For the rest of the millions of undocumented workers nationwide, it is Latino organizations and regular citizens donating whatever they can to assure our community that they also deserve a helping hand. 

Here are some other organizations that have helped undocumented people in the U.S. 

In March, the Cosecha Movement, a volunteer organization that helps undocumented immigrants, set up a campaign fund in response to COVID-19 raising more than $1.5 million to date. According to the organization, hundreds of people donated their entire stimulus check.

The Gage Park Latinx Council in Chicago raised a whopping $59,316, blowing past their $25,000 goal. In Washington, several organizations united to raise money and garnered $1,875,138 of a $2,000,000 goal. For undocumented immigrants in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area, Sanctuary DMV has raised $679,162 of its $700,000 goal. Additional funds for farm workers and domestic workers have been started.  

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Maritza Huerta, a small-business owner and half of DC-based public relations firm Twins PR, launched a fundraiser to help Latina domestic workers. Since March, the fund has accumulated $53,825, well beyond her original $3,000 goal.

“I would like to thank the people who are donating their money to help the cause,” said Silvia, a resident of Georgia, in a video testimonial. “These people have families, they have to pay rent, they have to pay their bills and feed their families, so it’s indispensable for them and their children.”

While the House of Representatives, led by a majority Democrats, included undocumented essential workers in the second stimulus relief fund, the bill is still in the hands of the Republican-majority Senate. Sen McConnell has voiced his disapproval of granting undocumented immigrants any COVID-19 relief funds.

“Another round of checks for illegal immigrants, can you believe it?” McConnell said in May regarding the second round of stimulus. “We forgot to have the Treasury Department send money to people here illegally. My goodness, what an oversight. Thank goodness Democrats are on the case.”