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Indianapolis selected for immigrant-inclusive COVID-19 relief research

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new research initiative is looking to get relief to immigrant communities.

Indianapolis’ Immigrant Welcome Center was selected to participate by the New American Economy research and advocacy organization. The research will identify challenges and gaps in service. The goal is to make sure all Hoosiers are taken care of regardless of immigration status.

In Indiana, about 120 nations are represented. A large concentration of the immigrant and refugee population call Indianapolis home.

“I think there’s a misconception that Indiana is a very nondiverse state, but Indianapolis as a whole is extremely diverse,” said Jackie Rodriguez, marketing and communications director with the Immigrant Welcome Center.

The center works closely with the immigrant community and is the organization slated to get tailored research to improve the COVID-19 emergency response services for immigrants.

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“I think it’s going to be extremely valuable. Oftentimes immigrants are sort of overlooked and especially if they are undocumented or they don’t have immigration status,” Rodriguez said. “They are completely left out of the picture.”

The research will be used to improve immigrant-inclusive response initiatives such as multilingual response material, health care accessibility and economic relief.

“They are contributing to our economy, but the unfortunate part is they do not receive any kind of aid,” Rodriguez said.

The center is already working toward improvements in those areas through its Community Connect Report: 48% of Immigrant Welcome Center clients report income loss or unemployment, and about a quarter of them report food insecurity and an inability to pay rent.

The most recent Community Connect Report lists unsafe working conditions, rental assistance, and growing medical bills as points of concern.

“The hope is that we can use this research to really support humanitarian aid in reaching those communities.”

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