Gov. Inslee announces $43 million in relief to help immigrants and agricultural workers

Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday announced the creation of two funds to help workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inslee said the Immigrant Relief Fund will provide $40 million to help Washington residents who are unable to access federal stimulus programs due to their immigration status.

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Inslee said The Food Production Paid Leave Program will provide $3 million of financial resources to certain food production workers who remain home when they are sick.

According to the Governor, he 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 in a news release. “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.”

Officials said 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.

Inslee said the institution and the chosen nonprofit will then partner with community organizations to manage applications and awards of $1,000 per eligible individual.

The initial awards are expected to be made later in the fall.

“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.”

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