116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY -- An immigrant advocacy coalition says delays in providing federal relief funds to undocumented workers is a human rights violation.
Ninoska Campos, a mother of two from Honduras, filed a complaint with the Iowa City Human Rights Commission alleging she was discriminated against by Johnson County and Iowa City.
Included with her complaint is a statement from the Fund Excluded Workers Coalition saying the agencies’ delay in providing American Rescue Plan money to undocumented workers and others who were essential during the COVID-19 pandemic is a potential violation of the city’s Human Rights ordinance.
“The burdensome red tape restricting equal access to the city and county’s general assistance programs is also a form of unfair discrimination against excluded workers who, because of our precarious placement in the shadows of society, do not always have written documents proving income, expenses, financial losses, and other mandated but unnecessary requirements,” the group wrote in a news release.
The coalition is asking for $54 million, an estimate of all federal pandemic relief money going to Johnson County governments, to go to undocumented immigrants, previously incarcerated people and unemployed workers. They also want governments to put rescue plan money toward hazard pay for low-wage essential workers, affordable housing and public transportation.
Iowa City is holding public listening posts and doing an online survey to see how residents want to spend the $18.3 million city share of the Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion federal relief package. The Iowa City Council will discuss the feedback and survey results Sept. 7.
The complaint also references a Twitter comment Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan made last week that appeared to question how Campos could work at a local hotel without documentation. The coalition said the post may be a human rights violation because it publicly questioned a resident’s immigration status and work history.
Campos said in her complaint Monday she came to Iowa City in 2019 with her husband and two children. Her husband was deported in 2020, but Campos stayed with the kids, working when she could throughout the pandemic, she said. When she got laid off, there were no unemployment benefits and she did not qualify for stimulus checks.
Sullivan later replied in the Twitter thread Campos should get the payments for which she is eligible and said he was glad to meet with her or others in the coalition.
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