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They aimed to raise $100,000 for undocumented immigrants in Washington state. They’re over $3M

caption: In this photo taken April 27, 2009, Latino workers till an asparagus field near Toppenish, Wash., on the Yakama Indian Reservation.
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In this photo taken April 27, 2009, Latino workers till an asparagus field near Toppenish, Wash., on the Yakama Indian Reservation.

A fund for undocumented immigrants is blowing past fundraising goals, but the need is huge

Some families cry when they find out they’re going to get money from the COVID-19 Relief Fund for Undocumented Individuals, Washington Dream Coalition organizer Daniela Murguia said.

“They really just say, ‘I can’t believe I am getting a call back from you all. I never get called back when I ask for help. And this government has this help, but I don’t qualify for it. I thought I was just being forgotten again.’”

Undocumented immigrants don’t qualify for the benefits that other people do, Washington Dream Coalition organizer Paúl Quiñones said.

“Someone that’s undocumented is not able to collect unemployment. Did not receive the stimulus check. Does not have health insurance to get the medical treatment that they need, and does not have access to most other aid programs that are out there.”

This relief fund gives $500 to $1,000 per family and is on track to donate to 3,000 families, Quiñones said.

Even then, the need is huge.

Another 12,000 people also applied for funding.

Application is reviewed individually and the applicant’s identity is checked over the phone by a volunteer.

Recipients are facing struggles with food, rent, and medical bills.

“One of our volunteers spoke to someone that told us they’ve had to ration the food that their children eat,” Quiñones said. “They didn’t know when they would have more money to buy food.”

The donation from the fund allowed the family to restock their pantry and feed their family, he said.

The fundraising is community-led mutual aid, not charity, Murguia said.

For example, Murguia said she is supporting her mother, who is undocumented, because her mother had to close her hair salon for social distancing.

Eight organizations, plus the website Scholarship Junkies, have come together to organize the fund.

Murguia was surprised at the public’s response to the fundraising, which had an initial goal of $100,000.

Now the fund has raised over $3.3 million from small, individual donations and an anonymous gift of around $1.5 million.

“That still leaves us with about a $12 million gap to fund the rest of the applicants we’ve gotten,” Quiñones said.

This week the fundraiser for undocumented immigrants got a boost. It’s now part of All in WA – a new effort to match donations to causes affected by Covid-19.

The state’s tech billionaires and other philanthropists are matching donations dollar for dollar. Including up to $25 million dollars from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

The groups behind the relief fund for undocumented people are also meeting with Governor Jay Inslee and advocating for millions of dollars from the state, mirroring support by California’s state government of a similar fund there.

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