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Blue City Redirected $700,000 In COVID Relief Funds To Illegal Immigrants, Probe Finds

The blue city of Madison, Wisconsin, funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in COVID-19 relief funds to illegal immigrants, according to the Institute for Reforming Government (IRG).

The funds were appropriated by the federal government to Madison’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) and intended to aid city residents in recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and public safety lockdown measures. Roughly 10% of the total SLFRF were funneled by Madison into nonprofit organizations providing aid to illegal immigrants, equating to about $700,000 dollars, according to an IRG Center for Investigative Oversight (CIO) probe, the results of which were released on Wednesday.

“It is troubling to learn that the City of Madison is funneling taxpayer dollars intended to help Wisconsinites to illegal immigrants. Taxpayers need answers,” IRG’s General Counsel and Director of Oversight Jake Curtis said in a statement on Wednesday. “Our team at the Center for Investigative Oversight is committed to working with our state and federal partners to bring to light answers for the hardworking taxpayers of our state.”

The funds were directed to these nonprofits even though illegal migrants do not qualify for federal or state aid, except in rare circumstances, according to IRG. Funds are still being dolled out for migrants through these nonprofits despite the pandemic having largely ended years ago.

Republican Wisconsin state Sen. Duey Stroebel, chair of the Senate Committee on Government Operations and vice-chair of the Joint Committee on Finance, sent a letter to the city of Madison demanding answers as to what exactly the SLFRF were put toward and which grant applications were accepted or denied.

“As a State Senator, it is my responsibility to be a steward of taxpayer dollars and look out for the interest of Wisconsin families. Wisconsinites deserve to know where this money is being spent and what it is being spent on. That is why, upon hearing of the City of Madison’s actions, my office has filed an open records request to investigate the City’s questionable use of SLFRF funds.”

There have been several instances of federal COVID-19 relief funds being directed toward questionable purposes, in some cases resulting in fraud charges. As of August 2023, roughly $280 billion in COVID-19 funds had been stolen by actors in the U.S. and overseas, according to the House Oversight Committee.

Democratic Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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