Vt. stimulus equity program payments to be disbursed soon
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Remember the $1,200 debit card you may have received from the government last spring? Those economic impact payments went from the government to most working adults, but not everyone. A new program created by the state of Vermont looks to correct that.
Uriel is from Mexico and works on a dairy farm in central Vermont. He asked that we not use his last name because he’s an undocumented worker. Like thousands of other migrant workers across the country, he says he came here for a better life and to provide for his family. “Both here and in Mexico, and so we have a lot of people counting on us,” Uriel said.
Through the pandemic, he’s been working 12-hour shifts in the farm’s milking parlor making $12 an hour. There haven’t been any COVID outbreaks at his farm, but agricultural operations aren’t immune. Last month, 27 cases were reported at an Orchard in Shoreham among apple pickers.
Back in the spring, the federal government sent out $1,200 debit cards to millions of Americans in an effort to soften the economic blow. However, Uriel and thousands of others who don’t have social security numbers were left out.
“This government was calling all of us immigrant workers on farms essential workers and was recognizing our work was so important, but at the same time we were being excluded from this recognition and excluded from support,” Uriel said.
Under the new Vermont Coronavirus Economic Stimulus Equity Program, Uriel is one of the thousands of adults slated to receive $1,200 payments. But unlike the tens of thousands who lost their jobs or the roughly 20,000 who are still unemployed, Uriel kept working through the pandemic.
Senate President Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden County, who worked with the Scott administration to stand up the program, says it’s a matter of equity. “Everyone, who for some perhaps unfair justifications from the federal government, did not receive the $1,200, let them step up and receive the same contribution for the same reason the federal program existed,” he said.
But even as the checks provide some solace, Uriel says the fight for equal rights continues. “We also have been fighting throughout the years for fair pay and housing and those struggles are continuing,” he said.
The payments are expected to go out next month.
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