After raising and disbursing more than $62 million during the height of the pandemic for the state’s undocumented community last year, the Washington Dream Coalition (WDC) says there’s still more work to be done.
A new report published early last week details the impact the organization’s COVID-19 relief fund had on the undocumented immigrant community. The grassroots effort for the relief fund was in response to most undocumented immigrants being left out of the stimulus package last year and ineligible for unemployment benefits. The report consists of qualitative demographic and employment data taken from the application process, which one of the main organizers and writers of the report called an “unprecedented” look at the community. It also highlights the voices of those who were directly impacted by the pandemic and the fund.
Though his office unveiled a $40 million fund for undocumented workers earlier this week, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee said in a press conference on Aug. 13 that the one-time payment fund won’t be available for undocumented workers until the autumn. He also said that the state has made available another $3 million in CARES Act funding for certain food production workers who have to quarantine themselves, due to infection from the novel coronavirus.
Washington is set to become just the second U.S. state to send coronavirus aid to undocumented residents, who so far have been excluded from federal relief packages. Advocates announced on Monday that the state will soon launch a $40 million worker relief fund to send one-time cash payments directly to undocumented workers.
The funding is less than half of the $100 million relief package requested in recent months by a coalition of more than 230 local organizations. Leaders on Monday described the new fund as a major victory but added that more relief will be necessary to help stabilize Washington’s undocumented population of nearly 230,000 people.
Washington State has reached a new milestone in the ongoing saga of the novel coronavirus pandemic. As of today, there have been 50,000 people who have tested positive for the virus, since the start of the pandemic.
Washington State’s undocumented workers waiting for the same kind of economic relief their documented peers receive will have to keep waiting, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office told the Emerald. They also won’t be eligible for the state’s first public option health program, Cascade Care, when it begins next year.
In late May, Inslee said his office was looking into the possibility of creating a novel coronavirus pandemic relief fund for undocumented workers, who are ineligible to receive unemployment benefits or federal economic relief. In an email to the Emerald on July 10, Inslee’s Deputy Communications Director and Press Secretary Mike Faulk said that the reason a fund is taking so long is due to a number of factors, including the complexity of the task and the recent mandate that requires certain staff members to take one furlough day per week, in an effort to cut costs.
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee said in a press conference on May 28 that the state will be instituting additional protections for agricultural workers, and that his office is looking into the possibility of creating a relief fund for undocumented workers who do not have access to unemployment benefits, despite paying taxes.
The Seattle City Council has unanimously adopted a resolution asking Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee to create a relief fund for undocumented workers affected by the current novel coronavirus pandemic.
The resolution, which was championed at the grassroots level by several immigrants’ rights organizations and introduced by sponsors Seattle City Councilmembers Lorena Gonzalez and Teresa Mosqueda at the City Council’s May 18 meeting, asks that the governor create the fund, because undocumented workers are ineligible for regular federal or state unemployment benefits or relief, despite paying taxes like official United States citizens.