Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network (WAISN), the largest immigrant-led organization in Washington State, announced today the launch of the Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund, which will provide an unprecedented $340 million in economic relief to undocumented immigrants impacted by COVID-19. Eligible people can apply to receive at least $1,000 in financial relief that they will receive between December and January.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the inequities that immigrants face on a daily basis. For years, WAISN has been working with the Washington State government to increase healthcare access for immigrants, and swiftly expanded the scope of their demands for economic relief when the pandemic struck in 2020 to ensure immigrants were not left behind.
“Immigrants have been on the frontlines of our communities and our economy during the pandemic, but do not have access to resources or benefits like healthcare, stimulus checks, or the ability to work from home,” said Brenda Rodriguez Lopez, executive director of WAISN. “The Washington Immigrant Relief Fund is the largest of its type in Washington State, and WAISN is proud of this opportunity to bring resources and relief to our community.”
The fund will be available to immigrants who have been impacted by the pandemic, including but not limited to those who have lost jobs, contracted the virus, or have cared for a family member who contracted it. Unlike most funds of its type, WAISN has been uniquely able to maintain a low administrative cost of 10 percent on the Washington Immigrant Relief Fund, so more than 90 percent of the money will go directly into the hands of the people who need it most.
All of the organizations involved in the fund have worked for years with immigrant communities, including underserved farmworkers, low-wage workers, and immigrants who are Black, Indigenous, LGBTQIA2+, living with disabilities, and many others. They are all committed to the well-being and privacy of immigrant communities. While the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services is providing the money and oversight, the government will not review any applications or see any personal information of applicants or recipients of the funding. The public charge rule should not apply for this fund, so receiving this money should not prevent people from seeking a pathway to naturalization.
Applications for the Washington Immigrant Relief Fund open on September 19 and will close on November 14. People can apply in Spanish, English, Chinese, Korean, and Tagalog, and community organizations will be available to help people apply over the phone in many more languages. To be considered, applicants must live in Washington State, be at least 18 years old, and have been significantly affected by the pandemic.
People who are eligible to receive federal stimulus funds or unemployment insurance because of immigration status are not eligible for the Washington Immigrant Relief Fund. This may include refugees, asylum seekers, COFA migrants, and DACA applicants who receive federal funds and unemployment benefits.
WAISN will be implementing and managing this fund in partnership with LiveStories, Washington Community Alliance, and a statewide network of immigrant-led community organizations in Washington. For more information or application assistance, visit immigrantreliefwa.org or call the WAISN hotline at 1 -844-724-3737.
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