State and local governments have exercised unusual powers since the early days of the Coronavirus lockdowns, ordering businesses to open and close, the wearing of masks, and much else. Amidst it all, renewed activism on immigration issues in some parts of the country has produced measures that offer emergency economic relief and access to health care for immigrants left out of federal programs, especially the undocumented. In other cases, governments have facilitated employment by immigrants considered “essential” from surgeons to farmworkers.
The initiatives are numerous and widespread, particularly among jurisdictions with sizable foreign-born populations. However, as of this update July 8, 2020, the sums of money allotted have been limited and so too have the number of beneficiaries. Nonetheless, these efforts are potentially significant as experiments that could pave the way for broader policy change in the long run.