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Excluded from Federal Aid, OR Fund Supports Undocumented Workers

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020   

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Left out of the last stimulus bill from Congress, Oregonians without legal status are getting aid within the state.

The Oregon Worker Relief Fund aims to distribute $1.3 million a week among people who are undocumented. With the infrastructure to distribute money built out, the program is holding a town hall today on how to access funds.

"Over the past decades, we've chosen to exclude undocumented immigrants from so many programs because of their legal status, yet we rely on them for so many different reasons, both economic and cultural and community reasons," said Ramon Valdez, director of strategic initiatives for Innovation Law Lab, which designed the software for allocating aid. "They're part of our community."

There are about 74,000 undocumented immigrants in Oregon, according to the Oregon Center for Public Policy. About 86,000 -- or one in 10 -- Oregon children live with a family member who is undocumented.

More than 100 organizations came together to create the fund, including the Latino Network, ACLU of Oregon, the farmworkers' union PCUN and the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon.

Susannah Morgan, chief executive of the
Oregon Food Bank, which also is a supporter, said hunger is a symptom of unequal access to things such as healthy food, employment and housing.

"What this pandemic and the associated economic crisis has taught us is that, with adequate public investment, we can dramatically reduce hunger in Oregon -- as long as all families are included," she said, "and that is why the Oregon Worker Relief Fund is critical."

The program is collecting donations from Oregonians and philanthropy groups, and has received $20 million from the Oregon Legislature. But the groups behind the fund estimate it needs more than $120 million to help every undocumented person in the state.

Adriana Miranda, executive director of the immigrant rights group Causa, said they'll continue raising money.

"It's a great investment and we applaud the Oregon Legislature for their leadership," she said, "but we know it's not sufficient to meet the full needs of these Oregon families."

Details of the Oregon Worker Relief Fund are online at causaoregon.org, and OCPP data is at ocpp.org.

Disclosure: Oregon Food Bank contributes to our fund for reporting on Hunger/Food/Nutrition. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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