By Stephanie Harp

Maine organizations promote COVID-19 relief
On April 22, 41 Maine organizations signed a joint letter to Maine’s Congressional delegation calling for inclusion of immigrant families in the next virus-related stimulus package.

The letter cited actions and policies that discriminate against, endanger, and ignore the plight of thousands of New Mainers and read, in part, “COVID-19 does not discriminate, and neither should our public health and economic stimulus policies.” The Families First Coronavirus Response and CARES Acts left low- and middle-income immigrant families out of the recovery plans, the letter said, and didn’t expand Medicaid (MaineCare), especially to DACA recipients, Temporary Protected Status holders, green card holders with less than five years of permanent residence, people without documentation, and others. Specifically, the group asked Maine’s representatives to help:

• Stop public charge rule implementation.
• Suspend immigration enforcement actions against survivors of domestic violence,
trafficking, and other serious crimes.
• Release children and vulnerable adults from immigration detention.
• Bar immigration enforcement actions in healthcare facilities, religious institutions, and schools.
• Provide Medicaid (MaineCare) coverage for COVID-19-related services, regardless
of immigration status.
• Fund language access and public outreach on coronavirus preparedness, response, and recovery.
• Include immigrant taxpayers who have individual tax identification numbers (ITIN)
in all cash relief benefits.
• Extend work permits during the emergency and for 60 days after it ends.

Signing organizations included:
Bangor Area – Carasque, El Salvador Sister Cities Project
Capital Area New Mainers Project
Cultivating Community
Frannie Peabody Center
Gateway Community Services Maine
Greater Portland Family Promise
Hispanic Ministry, Portland Diocese
Hope Acts
House of Languages Inc.
Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project
Iraqi Community Association of Maine
Isuken Coop
L’Africana Market LLC
Lewiston United for Peace & Hope
Maine Access Immigrants Network
Maine Business Immigration Coalition
Maine Episcopal Network for Justice
Maine Equal Justice
Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition
Maine Mobile Health Program, Inc
Maine People’s Alliance
Maine Unitarian Universalist State Advocacy Network
Mano En Mano

Martin Luther King Jr. Fellows
MidCoast New Mainers Support Group
New Mainers Resource Center, Portland Adult Education
New Roots Cooperative Farm
Portland Adult Education
Power in Community Alliances (PICA)
Preble Street
Presente! Maine
Restorative Justice Institute of Maine
Rwandese Community Association of Maine
Somali Community Center of Maine
Southern Maine Workers’ Center
Sustainable Livelihoods Relief Organization
United Youth Empowerment Services
Welcoming the Stranger
WIC Program