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Every day, organizations worldwide are engaged in a collective two steps forward, one step back march toward improved immigration services and policies. What hard-earned lessons are these nonprofits, and the foundations that support them, learning from their persistent efforts? This collection of evaluations, case studies, and lessons learned exposes and explores the nuances of effective collaboration, the value of coordinated messaging, the bedrock of ongoing advocacy efforts, and the vital importance of long-term and flexible funding.

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"Immigration"" by Paul_the_Seeker is licensed under CC 2.0

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Immigrants in the Long Island Economy: Overcoming Hurdles, Yet Still Facing Barriers

June 6, 2023

There 550,000 immigrants living on Long Island, according to an analysis of the most recent census data by Immigration Research Initiative (IRI). This includes all people born in another country and living on Long Island: people who are undocumented, have green cards, or are naturalized citizens; adults, and children; refugees, asylum seekers, agricultural workers, people with high-skill visas, and more. Making up 19 percent of the population, immigrants are a vital part of the social, economic, and cultural life of all communities in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Immigrants in the U.S. Economy: Overcoming Hurdles, Yet Still Facing Barriers

May 1, 2023

There are 45 million immigrants living in the United States. Making up 14 percent of the national population, immigrants are a vital part of the social, economic, and cultural life of all American communities.The economic role of immigrants has frequently been misunderstood. On the one hand, immigrants are a big and important part of the economy. And, on the other hand, immigrants are disproportionately concentrated in low-wage jobs. Both things are true at the same time.

“Maybe It Is Because I Was Not Born in the United States”: Immigrant Stories of Challenges to Medicaid Enrollment

March 13, 2023

Enrolling for Medicaid can be an arduous and daunting process for anyone. The technical language, document requirements and substantial amounts of paperwork can create difficulties during enrollment that can deter individuals from applying. The enrollment process is even more challenging for foreign-born individuals who are often less familiar with Medicaid than people who grow up in the United States, may not speak English confidently, often lack access to a computer, and may experience xenophobia or other forms of discrimination when seeking out help with the process.

“I Have Never Heard the Word Medicaid”: Recommendations for Improving Enrollment for Immigrants

March 7, 2023

Experiences of administrative and cultural barriers when enrolling for Medicaid can lead to the unsuccessful completion of applications, which in turn reduces individuals' access to healthcare services that they are eligible for. Survey respondents reported several barriers that can deter individuals, and in particular immigrants, from applying for Medicaid.  To reduce and eradicate these barriers the federal government and states need to implement policies that will help increase access to Medicaid for vulnerable populations, such as immigrants.

Expanding Inclusion in the Social Safety Net: Impacts of New York’s Excluded Workers Fund

January 10, 2023

Response to the COVID-19 pandemic and recession spurred a wave of policy innovation around the country. Although federal efforts typically carved out undocumented immigrants, many states and localities around the country tried to bring immigrants and others who were excluded back in. New York's Excluded Worker Fund (EWF) was the largest of these efforts. The $2.1 billion program allowed 130,000 immigrants without work authorization, and some others who fell between the gaps of federal aid, to get unemployment compensation if they lost work during the pandemic recession.To better understand the successes and shortcomings of the program, the Urban Institute and Immigration Research Initiative surveyed individuals in the population targeted for aid by this fund.Findings from this survey are intended to help inform advocacy efforts and future legislation, as New York advocates urge inclusion in the 2023 budget and states and localities across the nation consider the implementation of permanent unemployment benefit programs for excluded workers.

"Finally, We're Being Recognized": Stories and Perspectives from Applicants to the Excluded Workers Fund

March 17, 2022

Although expanded unemployment insurance played a large role in decreasing the number of people living in poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic, millions—most notably undocumented workers—were excluded from these benefits. The New York State Excluded Workers Fund (EWF) is the most notable example of legislation to address this gap. Passed in April 2021, the EWF approved 130,000 excluded workers to receive financial support that roughly equaled the average total amount unemployed workers eligible for unemployment compensation received, approximately $15,600 per person. To understand the experiences of workers who applied for EWF and of those that did not receive the fund, we conducted 15 interviews with workers in English, Spanish, Bangla, and Korean and 9 interviews with staff from community-based organizations serving various populations in New York and providing crucial application assistance.We found that those who received the fund were able to use it to make ends meet during a period of severe job loss bypaying back rent and other bills;repaying debt incurred during the pandemic;stabilizing or improving their housing conditions;paying for basic needs like food;investing in their children and education;taking care of their health and paying for medical expenses;stabilizing and expanding employment opportunities; andcreating local economic stimulus.We also found that the EWF had a significant impact on excluded worker recognition and their sense of power and dignity that comes from being treated as a valued member of society. We found that workers who applied but did not receive the fund because of difficulties providing the required documentation faced continuing stress around unstable income, debt burden, and other dire circumstances.Overall, New York State Department of Labor quickly and effectively adopted the EWF, but ultimately the fund ran out of money more quickly than anticipated. Although the fund was a high-impact intervention for those who benefitted, it has not provided solutions to the ongoing instability that accompanies a lack of lawful permanent status in the US.