Partners establish fund for undocumented families

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Lorena Aguayo-Marquez Courtesy Grand Rapids Community College

Eight community organizations established a fund that will grant emergency aid to undocumented and mixed-status families in Kent County in response to COVID-19.

Owing to the fact that undocumented and mixed-status families are not eligible for unemployment, CARES Act relief or other government support, several organizations came together to create the La Lucha Fund, a short-term emergency aid source announced on Tuesday.

La Lucha Fund is a collaboration between Movimiento Cosecha, the Grand Rapids Area Mutual Aid Network, the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, the Latino Community Coalition, Latina Network of West Michigan, West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and West Michigan Latino Network.

Additionally, the Grand Rapids Community Foundation made an initial investment of $100,000 to the fund and serves as its fiscal sponsor, accepting and processing donations on behalf of the fund partners.

“La lucha” means “the struggle” or “the fight.”

“The lucha is all of us working together to support people who systems are leaving behind. This is just the beginning of not only fighting COVID-19 but also for dignity and respect,” said Lorena Aguayo-Márquez, volunteer organizer of Movimiento Cosecha GR and the Grand Rapids Area Mutual Aid Network.

Undocumented community members do not qualify for federal assistance or state unemployment benefits, making them particularly vulnerable at this time, the organizations said.

Fear of deportation and barriers to navigating the system, such as language proficiency and knowledge of official institutions, keep many immigrants from pursuing other services even when they are qualified to do so.

La Lucha Fund will allow families to pay for basic needs such as rent, groceries, cleaning supplies and medicine.

More than 13,000 people who are undocumented live in Kent County, according to 2016 data from the Gateways for Growth initiative.

While the La Lucha fund is Latino-led, access to funds is open to all families who are undocumented in Kent County and are unable to access traditional forms of support.

A Spanish application can be found at bit.ly/laluchafund.

Those who wish to donate to the fund can text LUCHA to 555888 or visit givegr.org/LaLuchaFund.

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