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Activists make demands for how they want Johnson County COVID relief money spent

Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 6:36 PM CDT
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JOHNSON COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) -$47 million. That’s how much Iowa City and Johnson County governments stand to get from the most recent federal COVID-19 relief package. A local coalition wants them to spend that on people who got virtually nothing from that relief package: undocumented immigrants and migrant workers.

Here’s a breakdown of their demands: they want $20 million to go to an excluded workers fund. That could help provide payments for undocumented excluded workers. $20 million for hazard pay to go hospital workers, public employees, and school employees. $5-million for affordable housing for undocumented workers. Previously incarcerated people, and refugee settlement, and finally $2 million for transportation, including a bus service on Sundays.

“I know people will probably see this and only think immigrant workers, think why should we spend our money on them,” said Marlen Mendoza with LULAC. “Well, they pay taxes.”

“This money is the public’s money and it needs to be spent on public good for the community,” said Cathy Glasson, President of SEIU Local 199. “And for individuals who need that aid now than ever before.”

The group is demanding a public hearing with county leaders over the money. They spoke about it during the Johnson County Board of Supervisors meeting on Thursday morning.

“I think they have a lot of good ideas, and I think there’s a lot of opportunities to work with them to do a lot of things for the community,” said Rod Sullivan, Johnson County Board of Supervisor. “It’s just premature to commit to a single plan because there’s a lot of things we have to discuss.”

Activists say they will continue pushing local leaders.

“Let’s take this moment in history and do the right thing,” said Glasson. “Make sure excluded workers are no longer excluded.”

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