Governor Inslee announces relief funds to help immigrants and agricultural workers
- Olympia, WA
Gov. Jay Inslee Thursday, announced the creation of two funds to help workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Immigrant Relief Fund will provide $40 million to assist Washington residents who are unable to access federal stimulus programs due to their immigration status, and the Food Production Paid Leave Program will provide $3 million of financial resources to certain food production workers who remain home when ill.
The governor and his staff worked closely with a coalition representing 430 immigrant rights and social services organizations, and labor advocacy leaders, to develop the funds.
“We have to ensure that no one in our state is left behind as we fight this pandemic,” Inslee said. “COVID-19 doesn’t care what your immigration status is. We must support every family affected by the virus, especially those who lack the necessary means to quarantine or isolate and prevent further spread. This is the right thing for the well-being of individuals, the health of their colleagues and the safety of our communities.”
The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services has issued a request for proposals to select a nonprofit that will administer the Immigrant Relief Fund. The institution will then partner with community organizations to manage applications and awards of $1,000 per eligible individual. Initial awards are expected to be made later in the fall.
"Immigrant community members are facing some of the worst outcomes of this pandemic and have been systematically excluded from a social safety net for too long," said Rich Stolz, executive director of the immigrant rights group OneAmerica.
"A coalition of immigrant organizations came together to develop this fund that recognizes the dignity of our undocumented community members and works to get some relief to their families during this difficult time."
Inslee has strongly supported immigrant and refugee communities throughout his time in office.
In response to COVID-19, the governor has worked to provide agricultural operations with the personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies needed to keep agricultural workers safe. In particular, he has directed the procurement and distribution of more than $1 million worth of hand sanitizer for use in agricultural operations, and the distribution of more than 700,000 cloth face coverings to agricultural workers. Further distributions of PPE to agricultural workers will bring the total number of cloth face coverings and KN95 masks provided to more than 2 million.
“Immigrant workers are critical to communities throughout the state and are the backbone of our economy,” Inslee said. “While some have been hit by the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, others face safety risks as frontline workers. And even though immigrants in the United States pay billions of dollars in taxes, they do not receive the same support when a crisis occurs. This is one way to help rectify that situation.”