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Resources for Immigrants during COVID-19

Individual Rights

This article provides information on resources for immigrants during covid-19 and how the issue of public charge might affect the ability of immigrants to access healthcare and other services during this COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed unique and difficult challenges for immigrant communities. This page compiles resources and information for both documented and undocumented immigrant communities. 

National and Statewide Resources

Informed Immigrant is dedicated to increasing access to resources and knowledge for the undocumented immigrant community across the U.S. For more information read resources for Immigrants during the coronavirus crisis

RAICES has developed Texas Community Resources for the immigrant community during COVID-19. 

Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative has created a living document of resources for immigrant advocates in Greater Houston. This list of resources was compiled to provide information on the current pandemic, connect community members to local resources and amplify self-care tools as social distancing goes into effect. 

The National Employment Law Project has compiled COVID-19 resources for unemployed and frontline Worker, their advocates, and policymakers to help ensure that workers are protected. 

Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas hosted the following webinar focused on the “COVID-19 Impact on the Immigrant Community.” They answer the most pressing questions for immigrants in the United State related to USCIS hours of operation, public benefits eligibility, COVID-19 testing, and President Trump’s executive order regarding immigration.  

Cornell Law School compiled a COVID-19 Resource List for Immigrant Communities resource list. 

Healthcare Resources

The Houston Health Department opened a hotline for questions about COVID-19. Call 832-393-4220 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with any questions. Staff can answer questions in English and Spanish, and can follow up with people calling in other languages. Staff also plan to return voice messages left after hours. 

I don't have legal immigration status. Can I get tested for coronavirus?

Yes. Under the law, everyone is eligible for testing and treatment of communicable diseases, including covid-19. This includes people without legal immigration status.  

Vaccines for communicable diseases are also available to everyone. This is true no matter your immigration status. 

To find a vaccination site near you visit Texas Department of State Health Services. 

Though undocumented individuals are typically not eligible for health insurance, there are many free and low-cost clinics that serve the uninsured. Visit United We Dream for more information on Healthcare access for Undocumented Folks in the Time of COVID19

If I get treated for coronavirus, will that count against me in the "public charge" test? Will it make it hard for me to get a green card?

No, and no.  Testing and treatment for coronavirus will not count against you in the public charge test.  

Not all immigrants are subject to the public charge test. To learn more, read Public Charge Test

My family's income has gone down because of the covid-19 pandemic. Will this be a problem in the public charge test?

Maybe not. USCIS says you can provide an explanation, documentation (proof), or both if the coronavirus outbreak has affected your economic situation. This could include less household income due to layoffs, or a temporary need to use cash assistance.  

Isn't it a problem for immigrants to use medical benefits?

In many cases, no. If you are subject to the public charge test, you probably are not eligible for federally funded non-emergency Medicaid, the only medical program that immigration officials will consider.  

These medical benefits are not considered in the public charge test: 

  • Medical benefits (including Medicaid) used by pregnant women or people under age 21 

  • Medical benefits used by family members of the person seeking immigration status 

  • Emergency Medicaid 

  • State-funded medical benefits 

Is it safe for me to see a doctor if I need to?

Yes. Your doctor cannot share patient information about you, including your immigration status, without your permission. 

Federal guidelines say that immigration officials or ICE cannot arrest people or do other enforcement activities at health care facilities like hospitals and clinics. 

Is it safe for me to apply for medical benefits on YourTexasBenefits for myself or my family?

Yes. The information on your application for medical benefits can only be used to decide if you are eligible for benefits.  It cannot be shared with immigration officials. 

You can also call the Immigration Court’s Automated hotline at 800-898-7180 to obtain information about the date and time of your next hearing. 

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