King County embarks on new $16.3M program to support immigrants

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The King County Council on Tuesday approved a first-in-the-nation program to help immigrants apply for documented status and citizenship, sponsored by Council Chair Claudia Balducci, and began deliberations on an $11.3 million general relief fund to support undocumented King County residents, proposed by King County Executive Dow Constantine. 

The combined investment of more than $16 million will help King County immigrants overcome barriers to legal status and assist those who have not been able to access federal benefits associated with COVID-19 relief.

“Our community was the first in the nation to be hit by an outbreak of COVID-19 and King County has done much to support thousands of families with relief funds. 
"However, many of our immigrant residents have been categorically excluded from receiving emergency relief and we cannot recover and move forward as a community while leaving thousands of our neighbors behind,” Balducci said.

Executive Constantine also applauded the package:

“This region and nation owe a debt of gratitude to all essential workers who put their lives on the line during the pandemic. The fact that so many are undocumented immigrants underscores our responsibility to help those now seeking legal status. King County has long advocated for people who have come here seeking a better life,” Constantine said. 

The program includes two components:

Fee Support: The supplemental budget approved by Council Tuesday includes $5 million in to help immigrants apply for legal status, including filing fees with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Executive Office for Immigration Review.

Immigration application costs vary from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars per applicant. When multiple family members apply for relief together, the cost burden can be insurmountable for low-income families.

Applicants must be living, working, going to school or currently detained in ICE facilities but previously living, working or going to school in King County in order to qualify.

Relief Program: As part of the County’s eighth COVID budget, Executive Constantine proposes $11.3 million for grants to immigrants to meet basic expenses. Immigrants have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, but many have not been able to access federal relief funds due to their legal status. This program uses county General Fund dollars to start to redress that inequity.

Approximately 18,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in Washington state and about one-third to half of them reside in King County. In addition, King County is home to approximately 94,000 undocumented immigrants.


Anonymous,  June 23, 2021 at 6:40 AM  

"King County is home to approximately 94,000 undocumented immigrants."

And every last one of these illegal immigrants -- not undocumented immigrants -- should be deported to the countries where they hold citizenship.

What a giant waste of money, but that's to be expected from the King County Council.

Anonymous,  June 23, 2021 at 9:56 AM  

If my comment gets published, I will be surprised. Both of my parents were immigrants and from different countries. Both my parents went through a port of entry. It was VERY hard but both got their green cards and eventual citizenship. These so called immigrants who did not come through a port of entry are illegals. They broke the law! Why do they get a free pass when my parents had to work so hard to get here?

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