Washington state spent over $330 million worth of federal COVID-19 relief funds on cash transfers to illegal immigrants, according to a federal spending database.
The Washington State Legislature in April 2021 approved allocating $340 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to the Washington Immigrant Relief Fund, a program that doled out cash to “undocumented Washingtonians,” according to a state report. Federal records show that the state ultimately spent $330.2 million in federal funds on cash transfers to illegal immigrants, with the bulk of the spending on the program coming in 2022.
Washington approved 101,677 payments of $3,075 to illegal immigrants in 2022, working out to about $312.6 million in total spending that year, according to a state report. The state approved about 128,000 payments during the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
Washington also approved applications at a much higher rate in 2022 than it did in 2021 or 2020, the report shows.
The program, which is now defunct, was funded entirely by federal tax dollars, a spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation. Funding came from the “State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds” offered in President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
Illegal immigrants receiving taxpayer-funded cash transfers primarily spent their funds on rent and utilities, according to the report.
Washington had previously allocated an additional $127.6 million to its immigrant relief fund to be distributed between October 2020 and May 2021, according to the report. Payments ranged between $1,000 in the first period and $3,075 during the second period, and were intended for individuals over the age 18 who were ineligible for other forms of pandemic relief “due to their immigration status.”
The state also spent about $283,000 in advertising to immigrant communities in 2022 to encourage them to apply to the relief fund, the report shows. The state ran advertisements in Chinese, Somali, Spanish and other languages.
The Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network (WAISN) was also tapped by the state to help promote the program and aid immigrants in applying, according to the report. WAISN provides services to illegal immigrants such as bail for those detained by immigration authorities, according to its website.