By: Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times
OLYMPIA, WA- Governor Jay Inslee unveiled two relief funds to provide support for Washington residents unable to access federal stimulus programs due to their immigration status, discussed Thursday, August 13 during a press conference.
On August 10, Gov. Inslee announced a $40 million Immigrant Relief Program, available to undocumented workers who would otherwise be ineligible to access funds from federal stimulus payments and unemployment benefits provided to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
“This Immigrant Relief Fund is going to help workers who are the backbone of our agricultural economy and many other parts of our economy to make sure they do not fall behind in their expenses of their families and we know there are so many ways they are impacted,” stated Inslee.
The Immigrant Relief Fund will be distributed this fall, once the state secures an entity to manage the program, said Inslee.
$3 million will additionally be made available through a Food Production Paid Leave Program for certain food production workers, allowing them to isolate if they contract the coronavirus. This fund is available to these workers regardless of their citizenship and immigration status, said Gov. Inslee.
“This is really important because we have heard about folks who have been unable or unwilling to isolate knowing they were positive because they had to feed their families,” stated Inslee. “These mechanisms are not only going to help their families but the whole community because when people don’t isolate it puts the larger community at risk.”
The paid leave program will be run through the Washington State Department of Commerce, who will reimburse businesses for the allocated sick leave to ensure workers are given the time to quarantine.
Both programs are funded through the Coronavirus Relief Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill distributed between states by the federal government.
“COVID-19 doesn’t care what your immigration status is,” Inslee said in a press release. “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.”