SEATTLE (October, 21, 2020) - A new $40 million fund to provide economic relief to immigrants in Washington state began accepting applications today. 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.
Gov. 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 to Dec. 6. Money will be disbursed by Dec. 28, 2020.
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% of COVID-19 infections in Washington state, but only 13% 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
" 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 Americans, we know that during a disaster no one should be left behind; as Washingtonians we are walking the talk, and we are ensuring that our deserving communities have access to the COVID-19 relief tools to keep their families and neighbors healthy!" - 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 $40 million state fund, which immigrants fought for and will be administering, is a victory." - 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." - 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 Gov. 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." - Larry Brown, president of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Courtesy of Pyramid Communications