Financial Aid Starts for Oregon’s Undocumented Workers

  For Oregon’s undocumented workers – of which there are an estimated 74,000 – financial help from state and government programs during the pandemic have been all but lost.  

Together, immigrant and farmworker advocacy groups have collaborated to create the Oregon Workers Relief Fund, to provide temporary financial assistance to these workers.   

OWRF was initiated in March, and raised $1.5 million in donations from individuals and various philanthropic organizations that month. Included are the Oregon Community Foundation and the Oregon Food Bank. $250,000 was also donated by the city of Portland, and state lawmakers contributed $10 million in April.  

An estimated $124 million is needed to aid all farm workers and other essential employees out of work due to the pandemic, according to Ricardo Lujan-Valerio with Latino Network. The network also helped start the fund.  

“The need is extremely high and although $10 million [from the state] is a meaningful investment to ensure thousands of families can receive temporary relief, it’s not enough for what we’re anticipating,” Lujan-Valerio told OPB.  

Applications will go be available online with a statewide launch later this month. Applicants will be assisted by a caseworker, and funds will be sent within 30 days of approval. A soft launch began on May 8, and some assistance was offered last week.  

Those approved will receive up to $590 over a four week period via checks or PayPal.  

Oregon’s latino community has been disproportionately affected throughout the pandemic, mirroring what’s happening in other communities throughout the U.S.  

Lujan-Valerio further commented, “Our communities often don’t qualify for your traditional benefits provided by the government. These are the folks that will be falling through the cracks and often [they] are the backbones of the businesses that are being hit the hardest right now.”  

He and other groups plan to collaborate with the governor for future legislative sessions.  

By Stevie Beisswanger