$40M COVID relief fund opens for state’s immigrants

SEATTLE—A new $4 million fund to provide economic relief to

immigrants in Washington state began accepting applications last week. The Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund will distribute $1,000 per

person (up to $3,000 per household) to Washington residents who are

ineligible because of immigration status for federal stimulus funds or

unemployment benefits.

Governor Jay Inslee announced the fund in August after working with a

coalition of more than 400 community organizations across the state.

The fund is managed by a leadership team of 11 immigrant-led community

organizations, along with the Washington State Department of Social

and Health Services, the Legal Foundation of Washington and Seattle

Credit Union.

To apply, individuals must be Washington residents, at least 18 years

old, have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and be

ineligible for federal stimulus funding and unemployment insurance

because of their immigration status. Applications are open at

immigrantreliefwa.org from Oct. 21–Dec. 6. Money will be disbursed by Dec. 28.

The fund was created in response to the disproportionate impact of

COVID-19 on immigrant communities. Many immigrants are essential

workers in Washington’s biggest industries, including agriculture,

construction and health care. Latino immigrants in particular are at

risk from COVID-19. As of August, Latino residents make up 40 percent

of COVID-19 infections in Washington state, but only 13 percent of the population.

While most immigrants (regardless of immigration status) pay local,

state and federal taxes, about 250,000 people in Washington state do

not have access to federal CARES Act stimulus payments or unemployment

benefits because of their immigration status.

The community organizations administering the Washington COVID-19

Immigrant Relief Fund include:

· Asian Counseling and Referral Service

· Colectiva Legal del Pueblo

· Fair Work Center

· Northwest Immigrant Rights Project

· Nuestra Casa

· OneAmerica

· Raiz of Planned Parenthood

· Scholarship Junkies

· Washington Census Alliance

· Washington Dream Coalition

· Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network

Organizations involved in the leadership of the fund issued the

following statements:

Undocumented, immigrant and refugee communities live essential lives

and most are work essential jobs. During this global pandemic that has

impacted everyone, immigrant communities have been left behind and

excluded from most safety net programs that are keeping everyone

healthy and safe. As American's we know that during a disaster no one

should be left behind, as Washingtonians we are walking the talk and

we are ensuring our deserving communities have access to the COVID19

relief tools to keep their families and neighbors healthy,'' said Monserrat Padilla, Director, Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network

During the pandemic, as immigrants we have been at the highest risk

for getting the virus, losing work, or losing loved ones. But the

federal government intentionally left millions of us out of financial

support based on our immigration status. This is wrong: all of us who

call Washington home deserve support to make it through this time. The

$40M state fund, which immigrants fought for and will be

administering, is a victory,'' said Alejandra Pérez, Organizer, Washington Dream Coalition

''ACRS is proud to support the Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund

and help support undocumented AAPI Washingtonians in solidarity with

other immigrant communities across the state. American Community

Survey data has shown that AAPIs represent around a quarter of all

undocumented Washingtonians, but the need to support undocumented

AAPIs has gone largely unnoticed, and we look forward to finding more

ways to connect our most vulnerable community members with the

resources they are entitled to and need to provide for themselves and

their loved ones during these nearly unprecedented times of economic

insecurity,'' said Joseph Lachman, Policy Analyst, Asian Counseling and Referral Services

''We are proud to be part of the very broad coalition that made the case

for this critical funding and we thank Governor Inslee for making this

a priority. This is an important step toward recognizing both the

critical role undocumented immigrants play in our economy and the fact

that they have been excluded from all previous pandemic relief

programs,'' said Larry Brown, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.


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