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Assuming that the requirement of a negative economic impact due to the COVID-19 public health emergency is met, is general assistance with immigration/naturalization an approved use of ARP funds?

The U.S Department of the Treasury’s (“Treasury”) Final Rule does not identify naturalization and other immigration services as an eligible use of funds under the American Rescue Plan’s (“ARP”) Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (“CSLFRF”). However, Treasury has indicated that the eligible uses it identifies in the Final Rule are a non-exhaustive list of programs that qualify for CSLFRF funding. The Final Rule “provides flexibility for recipients to identify other public health or negative economic impacts to additional households, small businesses, or nonprofits, including classes of these entities, and pursue programs and services that respond to those impacts.”[1] Depending on the population being served and how this population was impacted by the pandemic, it is possible that naturalization and other immigration services could fall under the public health and negative economic impact category. Given the lack of specific guidance, municipalities seeking to apply CSLFRF funds for this purpose should obtain prior approval from Treasury.

Municipalities have employed ARP funds to implement a range of programs providing services to immigrant communities, including starting new programs and expanding existing ones. For example, Long Beach, California and Washington, D.C. have expanded existing services providing legal services and deportation defense.[2] North Miami, Florida and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have started new programs providing immigration services for residents and Immigrant Court program match, respectively.[3] Meanwhile, Madison, Wisconsin is funding community partners delivering assistance to undocumented individuals and families as they cope with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.[4]

Municipalities considering projects related to naturalization and other immigration services should refer to Treasury’s Framework for Eligible Uses Beyond Those Enumerated, which may assist municipalities in evaluating whether their project is eligible for CSLFRF funding. The two-step process[5] is summarized as follows:

Step 1: Identify COVID-19 public health or economic impact

  • Can identify impact to a specific household, business, or nonprofit or to a class of households, businesses, or nonprofits (i.e., group)
  • Can also identify disproportionate impacts, or more severe impacts, to a specific beneficiary or to a class

Step 2: Design a response that addresses or responds to the impact

 

  • Types of responses can include a program, service, or capital expenditure
  • Response should be related and reasonably proportional to the harm
  • Response should also be reasonably designed to benefit impacted individuals or classes

Last Updated: April 25, 2022

[1] Treas. Reg. 31 CFR Part 35 at 213, available at: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRF-Final-Rule.pdf.  

[2]  Vera, “How the American Rescue Plan Can Support Immigrant Communities,” available at: https://www.vera.org/how-the-american-rescue-plan-can-support-immigrant-communities.

[3] Id.

[4] City of Madison DPCED Community Development, “2022 ARPA Funding: Services to Undocumented Immigrants,” available at: https://www.cityofmadison.com/dpced/communitydevelopment/funding/2022-services-to-undocumented-immigrants-rfp/477/.

[5] Department of Treasury, “Coronavirus State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds: Overview of Final Rule,” at 32-34, available at: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRF-Final-Rule-Overview.pdf.