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Through this series, we examine the disproportionate financial toll of COVID-19 on Black and Latino communities, including how it has affected individuals, families and businesses.

NC Latino Advocacy Group Raises $425,000 For Those Who Don’t Qualify For Stimulus Money


Está historia está disponible en español en La Noticia

A Latino advocacy organization based in Raleigh says it's raised about $425,000 in the last year for immigrants who missed out on stimulus checks because they are in the country illegally.

Siembra NC launched the Pledge Your Check campaign last spring after the first round of stimulus checks. Executive Director Kelly Morales says the group was bombarded with calls to their hotline asking for help.

“When we saw the stimulus checks being rolled out, you know, it was already not enough for many families to really pay the bills and to deal with the economic crisis,” Morales said. “But it wasn't even any kind of a real help for the great majority of Latino people.”

Morales says that during the first round of checks, Siembra NC raised $375,000 and distributed money to about 440 families in seven counties. That averages out to about $850 per family.

“We had people with papers pretty much just redistributing the money that a lot of them didn't need because they were still able to work at home,” Morales said.

Morales says most of the money has been used to pay bills, food and gas.

“What we see is that a lot of this was used for the bare necessities,” Morales said. “We know it's not enough to cover the whole issue, but a lot of people reported that it was at least helpful.”

Siembra NC restarted the campaign after the latest round of stimulus checks. So far, about $45,000 has been raised.

Eligibility rules changed for the last two rounds of stimulus checks. Mixed-status families are now able to receive the money. This means people with Social Security numbers married to immigrants who are in the country illegally now qualify for federal support.

In North Carolina, there are almost 300,000 immigrants who are not in the country legally, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Close to 250,000 of them are Latinos.

“We talk about all the time that we're all in this together. We're all going through this economic crisis, we're all going through this pandemic and trying to survive,” Morales said. “But what we know is that if we want to get over this pandemic, we also have to make sure that those that are most vulnerable and impacted see this through.”

Morales says people have donated part or all of their stimulus checks through Siembra NC’s website. And families have been selected to receive financial support by calling the organization’s hotline.

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Maria Ramirez Uribe is a Report for America corps member covering issues involving race, equity and immigration for WFAE and La Noticia, an independent Spanish-language news organization based in Charlotte.