April 20, 2020

Cortez Masto Details Resources for Immigrant Families in Nevada

Las Vegas, Nev. – In a Medium post published today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) provided guidance on the resources available to immigrant families. The Senator’s Disaster Resource Guide is available in both English and Spanish and has extensive information to help immigrant families.

Full text of the post can be found here and below:

Support for Immigrant Families During the Coronavirus Pandemic

By U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto

As Nevadans confront the coronavirus pandemic, families with mixed immigration status or who are undocumented may be concerned that they might not have access to critical information and resources. To help respond to your concerns, my office has put together a Disaster Resource Guide in both English and Spanish, as well as a list of frequently-asked questions.

The most important thing to know is that anyone in Nevada in need of health care due to the coronavirus should seek it. There is no law that prohibits hospitals from treating undocumented patients. Moreover, federal law requires hospitals to treat patients who seek emergency care until they are stable. Non-profit hospitals must provide at least some level of charity care – or financial assistance – to low-income and uninsured residents who meet the hospital’s eligibility rules. This assistance varies from hospital to hospital. Undocumented immigrants can seek primary care at community health centers across the state that offer low-cost services for low-income patients. You can find the closest community health center here.

Some immigrants are concerned that if they get treated for COVID-19, it might be used against them in a future public charge analysis and hurt their chances of becoming a citizen. This is not the case. USCIS will not consider testing, treatment, or preventative care related to COVID-19 as part of a public charge analysis.

If you cannot work or attend school and must rely on public benefits for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak and recovery phase, you can provide an explanation and relevant supporting documentation in your application for adjustment of status. USCIS will take all such evidence into consideration in the totality of your circumstances.

COVID-19 has caused immigration authorities to announce other changes too. To slow the spread of coronavirus, USCIS has suspended routine in-person services and is only providing limited emergency services. Immigration court hearings for immigrants who are not detained are also postponed. My Disaster Resource Guide has more details.

In addition, for undocumented immigrants, ICE has said that during the COVID-19 crisis it will focus its enforcement on public safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds. For people not in those categories, Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) will either delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate. ICE also announced it will not carry out enforcement at or near health care facilities like hospitals, doctors’ offices, health clinics, or urgent care facilities, except in the most extraordinary of circumstances.

In Nevada, immigrants who have valid work authorization are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. To qualify, you must have valid work authorization both for the time you were employed and the time you are unemployed.

To address the economic effects of business closures in Nevada and across the nation, I voted for several measures to increase unemployment insurance, give Americans stimulus checks, and support Nevada’s vital travel, tourism, gaming, and hospitality industries and their workers. Immigrants with valid social security numbers and who file taxes as “resident aliens” qualify for these one-time stimulus payments. This includes DACA and TPS recipients. If you file taxes as a family, the whole family needs a valid social security number. If you are in a mixed-status family and anyone in the family uses an ITIN (individual taxpayer identification number), the family does not qualify for the payment. Military families may be excluded from this limitation if one spouse has a valid social security number and at least one spouse is in the military. If you have questions, I encourage you to contact the legal aid services available to you. My Disaster Resource Guide has contact information for a range of help all over the state of Nevada. 

The guide also discusses other resources that you can count on during this pandemic. Food banks across the state have ramped up services to provide food for those in need. The Food Bank of Northern Nevada’s (FBNN) Food Pantries and Mobile Harvest programs are running at one distribution site. In Southern Nevada, Three Square Food Bank has several drive-thru emergency food distribution sites for those in need. Three Square is also offering additional services to seniors who are in need of home delivery or SNAP assistance. You can find out more about these distribution sites in Northern Nevada here and in Southern Nevada here. For those in need of assistance, now is also an important time to check your eligibility for SNAP or WIC benefits.

There’s additional relief for renters and homeowners in the state of Nevada, regardless of immigration status. Governor Sisolak announced a statewide moratorium on evictions last week, and many landlords and lenders are making other arrangements for struggling Nevadans. Nevada Attorney General Ford also announced a plan to make $2 million in rental assistance available through the United Way. The Disaster Resource Guide has more details about options for renters and homeowners.

Utilities across Nevada are also working with customers to make sure Nevadans have access to electricity, heat, and water. Many are temporarily stopping disconnections and offering flexible payment options for customers affected by the coronavirus. My Disaster Resource Guide has information on local utility shut off suspensions and guidance on other actions being taken to help customers.

These are extraordinarily difficult times for immigrants in Nevada. That’s why I’ll continue to fight to get Nevada’s immigrant community the relief it needs and to bring more resources to the Silver State. I’m also working to provide Nevadans with the information that will help them get through this crisis. As officials make more help available, my office will be updating my Disaster Resource Guide in both English and Spanish, as well updating a list of frequently-asked questions and other information on my website, www.cortezmasto.senate.gov. If you have any questions or need help navigating the immigration system, reach out through my website or by calling one of my offices in Nevada or Washington, D.C. I’m here to help.