Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday, Oct. 21 the Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund is now open for applications.
The relief fund will provide $40 million in federal funds allocated by the state to assist Washington workers who miss work due to COVID-19, but are unable to access federal stimulus programs and other social supports due to their immigration status, according to a governor’s office news release. While the fund is operational, eligible recipients will receive $1,000, with a limit of $3,000 per household.
“Immigrant workers are critical to communities throughout the state and are the backbone of our economy,” the governor said when he announced the program. “The pandemic continues to impact all aspects of life for Washingtonians, and we need to remain steadfast in our support of those bearing the greatest burden.”
The governor and his staff worked closely with a coalition representing 430 immigrant rights and social services organizations to develop the fund. In addition to the critical work of the Department of Social and Health Services, the state has selected the Legal Foundation of Washington to administer the program. The Legal Foundation of Washington will work with Asian Counseling and Referral Service, Colectiva Legal del Pueblo, Fair Work Center, Nuestra Casa, Raiz of Planned Parenthood, Scholarship Junkies, Washington Census Alliance, and the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, among many others, to distribute these benefits.
“This is an important step toward recognizing 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.
“As Americans, we know that no one should be left behind during a disaster; as Washingtonians, we are ensuring that our deserving communities have access to the COVID-19 relief tools to keep their families and neighbors healthy,” said Monserrat Padilla, Director of the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network.
Separately, the Washington Food Production Paid Leave Program has been underway since mid-August and will remain in place through Nov. 18. The program provides leave to workers in the food-sector industry who work for employers exempt from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Additionally, the state has finalized the distribution of 50,000 gallons of hand sanitizer and provided more than 1.2 million cloth face coverings and KN95 masks to workers.
For the Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund, applications are open at immigrantreliefwa.org from Oct. 21 through Dec. 6. Benefits will be disbursed by Dec. 28.