Washington state reportedly diverted $340 million in pandemic aid to illegal immigrants

A report from the Economic Policy Innovation Center accuses the Biden administration of subsidizing illegal immigration "under the guise of COVID-19 pandemic relief."

A report from the Economic Policy Innovation Center (EPIC) ensures that the Washington state government spent $340 million allocated to COVID-19 relief funds on checks for undocumented immigrants. The federal money would have been distributed in $1,000 checks to immigrants who, due to their immigration status, could not benefit from other assistance programs. The Treasury Department recognized this misallocation of funds, per EPIC:

[The program] provides a one-time cash grant to of [sic] $1,000 for each resident of Washington who are at least 18 years of age and are ineligible to receive federal economic impact payments or unemployment insurance benefits due to their immigration status.

The central government allegedly approved these payments, which is why the center's researchers assure that "the Biden Administration directly subsidized 'undocumented' immigration under the guise of COVID-19 pandemic relief."

The money came from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that the president signed into law in March 2021. The objective of these funds, the administration assured, was to provide immediate aid to Americans and provide economic relief from the pandemic. Neither the legislative text nor the summary of the plan mentions giving money to undocumented immigrants .

The person in charge of distributing the funds was the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF), which aimed to financially assist state and lower level governments. On its website, it claims to have given out $350 billion. Among the possible uses for the money, the SLFRF listed public sector expenses, paying premiums to essential workers and infrastructure investments. There is no reference to undocumented immigrants here either.

The state of Washington does recognize that the program was distributing money to illegal immigrants. This was demonstrated by EPIC, which establishes the link between federal pandemic assistance funds and the Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund. As EPIC points out, between 2020 and 2023, the fund provided $400 million to immigrants in the state, a figure that it calls "unprecedented" on its official website.

In a report on the impact of the program, authorities say that the money was intended for undocumented immigrants who "were ineligible for government-sponsored assistance programs afforded to those with citizenship and more stable or permanent immigration statuses."

EPIC also highlights that groups such as Planned Parenthood were among the organizations chosen by the state to assist with the program through a local branch called Raíz of Planned Parenthood.

The money used by Washington state is part of a series of payments from the SLFRF that EPIC claims were intended for undocumented immigrants or asylum seekers, such as $4.1 million that Pima County, Ariz., used to purchase a shelter for "migrants seeking asylum released into Pima County by U.S. Department of Homeland Security who are traveling to a U.S. destination where they will participate in a court hearing to determine their refugee status."