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$1.25 million donated to support Tucson immigrants during pandemic

$1.25 million donated to support Tucson immigrants during pandemic

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Private donations will provide $1.25 million in financial relief to Tucson immigrant communities, many of whom have been excluded from federal aid during the pandemic.

The money was donated to the city of Tucson’s We Are One | Somos Uno Resiliency Fund by the Open Society Foundations and an anonymous donor.

Coordinated by Mayor Regina Romero and Ward 1 council member Lane Santa Cruz, the funds will provide aid to immigrant residents, regardless of their citizenship, in the cities of Tucson and South Tucson who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, particularly those who were not eligible to receive CARES Act stimulus checks and other emergency benefits.

“It is unconscionable that many of our fellow Tucsonans do not have access to federal aid despite risking their lives serving as essential workers during this pandemic,” Romero said. “No one should suffer hardship in the shadows and, unfortunately, that’s the painful reality many immigrants are enduring. I am grateful to the Open Society Foundations and those who stepped up to provide financial aid to Tucsonans who do not have access to federal assistance.”

Funds will be administered and distributed by the Sunnyside Unified School District Foundation. The nonprofit agreed to partner with the city on the Immigrant Relief Fund after noticing a need for support within its community of students and families.

The Open Society Foundations provide funds to groups working for justice, democratic governance and human rights, according to its website. It was founded by billionaire financier George Soros, a major political donor to Democratic candidates and liberal causes.

Details on how to receive aid will be released by the foundation Sept. 1. According to Santa Cruz, those who qualify for relief will likely receive $600 cash cards, which will provide assistance to nearly 2,100 people.

In early April, Santa Cruz said her office was approached by the Immigrant Empowerment Taskforce, which detailed the concerns of Tucson’s immigrant families.

“We know that a lot of our immigrant community members are essential workers and have had to continue going to work during the pandemic, especially here in Tucson. They’re the ones who are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19,” she said. “But then you also have immigrants who serve as domestic workers or landscapers or child-care workers who are no longer able to work or have decreased hours because of the pandemic. These are the folks who are being hit hardest, and at the same time are not receiving any federal aid.”

Santa Cruz said that providing cash assistance is a “fundamental building block” to ensuring the long-term support and stability of immigrant families who can use the aid to pay their rent and utility bills or buy food and other essentials.

“This seemed like an uphill battle, and I am grateful for the donations from OSF, our anonymous donor, and Sunnyside Foundation because in this moment of crisis they are helping us rise to the occasion,” she said.

In addition to providing financial support for immigrant communities, the We Are One | Somos Uno Resiliency Fund has recently launched a variety of emergency aid programs to support Tucson workers and families, small businesses and nonprofits. Unlike the Immigrant Relief Fund, most of these programs are funded by federal CARES Act dollars.

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Contact reporter Jasmine Demers at

On Twitter: @JasmineADemers

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Jasmine joined the Star in 2019. With a master’s degree in journalism, Jasmine served in a variety of leadership roles, including The Daily Wildcat's editor-in-chief. She was also named Outstanding Newsperson of the Year by the UA School of Journalism.

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