Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has agreed to provide $40 million in COVID-19 relief for illegal immigrants. The fund will be available to illegal immigrants who can’t access federal coronavirus relief programs, such as the CARES Act, because of their immigration status.
Individual illegal immigrants who submit an application can receive up to $1,000 if approved, and families are eligible to receive up to $3,000. The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services will select a nonprofit to administer the Immigrant Relief Fund.
“We have to ensure that no one in our state is left behind as we fight this pandemic,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. “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.”
“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.”
The Pew Research Center estimates that Washington has approximately 240,000 illegal residents, who reportedly pay around $368 million in state and local taxes annually.
“We’re excited to have a good chunk of money allocated to our community,” Alejandra Perez, an immigration activist from the Seattle area who has been working with the governor’s staff, said. “Even though our (original) ask was $100 million.”
In May, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution requesting emergency economic assistance from the state of Washington for illegal immigrants. The resolution called for the state to create the “Washington Worker Relief Fund,” which would allocate at least $100 million to assist illegal immigrants who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic. The city council voted 9-0 on the resolution, and it was signed by Mayor Jenny Durkan.
Washington’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council predicted the state’s current 2019-2021 budget would fall short of revenues by $4.5 billion. The 2021-2023 budget is forecast to have a $4.3 billion budget deficit, according to KING-TV.
In April, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that California would provide millions of dollars to illegal immigrants in a coronavirus relief fund. Newsom said the state would contribute $75 million in taxpayer funds, while a network of immigration rights organizations have pledged to raise another $50 million for the fund.
In May, Oregon started distributing more than $10 million to illegal immigrants through the Oregon Worker Relief Fund.