While millions of people in Mexico, the United States and Puerto Rico rebuild after a month filled with catastrophic natural disasters, there is one group struggling silently. Undocumented residents in the U.S. are the least assisted and most vulnerable population when it comes to natural disaster and recovery efforts. Why? Because they do not qualify for any government assistance. When their homes and belongings are lost to disaster, they do not receive the same aid as their neighbors.
A recent story by NPR’s Marketplace exposes this reality for the undocumented community trying to rebuild in Houston, Texas, after Hurricane Harvey. They followed Ingrid, an undocumented Honduran immigrant who came to Houston 12 years ago, as she tried to start the recovery process. A mother of four, her husband was deported to Mexico just one week before the hurricane hit.
FEMA offers up to $33,000 in cash assistance for every household impacted by natural disasters. For Ingrid, she is only allowed to apply on behalf of her US-born children, who are ages 12, 10, 6 and 3 months. However, having children that are citizens did not guarantee her any assistance. In fact, she never even received any.
“I filled out an application with FEMA but they still haven’t responded,” Ingrid told Marketplace. “They haven’t sent me anything. They’ve told me nothing. I don’t have any idea what happened with that application. I’ve been to various organizations but none of them helped me.”
If you would like to learn more about how Ingrid is managing through the recovery, click here.