New Student-Led Project Aims To Provide Pro Bono Services In Wake Of COVID-19

Thousands of American families are teetering on the brink of financial destruction right now. The reason why is obvious: coronavirus has all but shut down daily operations all over the world. Non-essential businesses are closing, employees are being fired by the millions, and unemployment benefit applications are skyrocketing. The economy is in freefall with no end in sight. That’s why we need pro bono help wherever and whenever we can find it.

One student-led project wants to provide support right now.

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Law student Alyssa Leader saw thousands of tweets on Twitter from people crying out for help. Determined not to let these voices go unheard, she launched the Law Student COVID-19 Pro Bono Support Project.

These efforts are encouraging, but let’s not forget that immigrant families — and certainly those families seeking asylum protections at our southern border — need financial and legal protection as well.

Dozens of human rights and health organizations have sent a letter to Senators Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer to plead for additional protections for immigrant families:

We are writing to urge you to address to major provisions of the proposed COVID-19 relief bill that will exclude millions of immigrant families, including U.S. citizen children. We cannot protect the nation from the Coronavirus and its economic impact if we deny health care and financial relief to a large segment of our communities. The virus and its effects do not discriminate based on immigration status, and neither should relief efforts.”

It continues: “The Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s Medicaid state option for the uninsured excludes some green card holders and many other people who are lawfully residing in the US. Federal Medicaid is available only to a certain subset of immigrants who have had a ‘qualified’ immigration status for five years, ‘humanitarian’ immigrants, military/veterans and their families, and in some states, lawfully residing children and/or pregnant women.”

The organizations responsible for penning the letter didn’t just approach the pair of senators with problems. They also offered solutions. They named specific sections of the new $2 trillion deal already signed by Donald Trump for revision. 

The damage already done by the coronavirus outbreak and the disease it causes, COVID-19, is catastrophic. But the damage it will do in the coming weeks and months makes everything so far look like a cakewalk at best. We need to continue to help one another out in these dark times.