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Millions of immigrants won't get emergency pandemic benefits because of work status

There are about 10 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who aren't eligible for federal relief or unemployment because they don't have valid work status.

A record number of Americans have filed for unemployment in recent weeks as millions await federal and state benefits amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Undocumented immigrants in the country, however, most likely won't get any of that relief. There are more than 10 million in the U.S. who aren't eligible for federal or state benefits during the pandemic because they lack valid work authorization, USA Today reported.

While many immigrants without American citizenship are still working in "essential" jobs, many more have seen their work hours, pay or jobs cut as businesses shut down to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

The Washington Post reported that immigrants without work authorization aren't eligible for the cash payments in the just-passed $2 trillion stimulus package, even if they pay taxes or have children who are U.S. citizens.

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Amid this anxiety, one city is working to ensure all its immigrants and refugees can get access to coronavirus benefits. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed an executive order to make sure all can get relief regardless of citizenship status.

“These Chicagoans are vital community members who work in various industries and help our great city to thrive every day. These Chicagoans are our family members, co-workers, neighbors and friends. I applaud the Mayor for standing with undocumented individuals and families to ensure their eligibility for any economic assistance offered by the City of Chicago during this global pandemic," 22nd Ward Alderman Michael D. Rodriguez said.

The order creates several programs to aid all who live in Chicago, including the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Grant, offering online learning resources for all students regardless of school level or immigrant status, and creating a $100 million small business disaster relief fund.

"Here in Chicago, saying ‘we are all in this together’ means that during this crisis, no one gets left out and no one gets left behind," Lightfoot said.

The stimulus package passed by Congress does include free coronavirus testing for immigrants through federally-funded community clinics or Medicaid programs that are open to those with green cards, according to USA Today.

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