How the American Rescue Plan Can Support Immigrant Communities

An equitable recovery requires investments in safety and health for immigrant communities.

October 05, 2021

Special Report

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act provides state and local governments with a once-in-a-lifetime pathway not only toward recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to create stronger, healthier communities in its wake. The ARP allocated $350 billion in flexible funding for state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments to address the harms of COVID-19, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury encourages governments to spend ARP dollars to aid recovery, stability, and assistance to households, businesses, and organizations disproportionately affected by the pandemic. This includes immigrant communities.

One way these funds can help ensure safety and health for immigrant communities during the pandemic? By funding immigrant legal services, including deportation defense programs. Investing in deportation defense ensures advocacy for the health and safety of people facing deportation and detention and for communities cumulatively harmed by COVID-19, criminalization, and systemic racism.

Jurisdictions can use ARP funds to create or expand public investment in immigrant justice and legal defense programs for people facing deportation, like the ones in Vera’s SAFE Initiative, in order to foster COVID-19 prevention and mitigation, economic recovery, and direct investment in communities. For more details on how communities are already doing this and why, see How Federal COVID-19 Relief Funding Can Support Immigrant Communities.

Selected immigrant legal services investments funded with COVID-19 state and local fiscal recovery funds

State and local governments are working with their immigrant communities to assess priorities and plan how they’ll use federal funds. A number of cities have already committed to using ARP funds to expand existing deportation defense programs or to start new ones.

The table below highlights how localities are using ARP funds to invest in deportation defense. To compile this list, Vera searched for examples of city- or county-based ARP fund spending plans or fiscal year 2022 budgets to identify existing budgetary commitments toward immigrant legal services and deportation defense. Not all cities and counties have made these fiscal decisions or shared them online. In addition, this list does not include the many jurisdictions that as part of the movement for universal representation have expanded their programs or started new ones this year using state and local sources of funding.

Read the fact sheet

ARP investments in immigration deportation defense