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(The Center Square) – The Washington State Department of Commerce has awarded eight nonprofit organizations $15.4 million in grants for the purpose of bringing legal aid services to low-income immigrants.

The funds, which came from an appropriation by the state Legislature, are nearly double that of the previous biennium funding levels.

“Everyone deserves to be safe, remain together with family and loved ones, and have the opportunity to go to school and earn a living. The funding increase from the legislature this year is critical to ensure that emergency legal aid for refugees in Washington continues to expand,” said Department of Commerce Director Mike Fong in a Friday news release.

The grant selection process prioritized counties with the most Ukrainian arrivals, including Clark County, per the news release. The southernmost county in Washington ranks third statewide for taking in Ukrainians, according to the Office of Refugee and Immigration Assistance. 

The list of organizations funded, pending final contracts with the Department of Commerce, are:

Commerce says need for legal services routinely exceeds available funding and, even accounting for the significant increase in funding year over year, “strong grant applications had to be turned away” according to Fong.

Cases surrounding immigration are complex, and can take years to resolve. With the awarded funding, the Department of Commerce and partnering organizations expect to be able to serve more than 2,700 clients annually.

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