A Hispanic business owner who sued Oregon for blocking her from the state’s COVID-19 relief fund exclusively for Black business owners will be getting a payout after all, as the state agreed this week to settle the lawsuit over their race-based program.
Maria Garcia, who owns Revolución Coffee House in Portland, sued Oregon last year over its Oregon Cares Fund, for which the state legislature dedicated $62 million from the federal CARES Act toward grants that were only eligible to Black Oregonians. Garcia claims the fund is unconstitutional because it is based on race.
“This lawsuit is not anti-Black or pro-Latino…but a lesson for our elected officials that the state has to be inclusive in all its decisions and offer equal opportunities to access funds,” Garcia wrote in a Facebook post at the time.
The Oregonian reported Friday that the state deposited more than $46,000 to the court in December following a preliminary injunction request from Garcia’s lawyers, and that the amount was for the maximum amount Garcia would have been eligible for under the program if she were Black.
“As there were no funds left in this program there wasn’t anything to do but settle this case,” Garcia said in a statement to The Oregonian via the Center for Individual Rights, which represented her in her suit. “We will challenge any future efforts by Oregon to divide its citizens by race, which hopefully, everyone now understands is both unfair and illegal.”
This is the second settlement Oregon has made in a case challenging the Oregon Cares Fund.
The first was in March, when the state settled with the White owner of Great Northern Resources, a timber salvage company, whom the state agreed to pay up to $230,000.
Edward Blum, who represented the plaintiff in the case, told Fox News ahead of the settlement, “If the state of Oregon wants to target adversely impacted businesses, then fine,” Blum said. “But help Hispanic businesses, Asian American businesses, Native American businesses and White businesses that have been adversely affected, not just Blacks’, that’s unconstitutional.”
In reaction to the first settlement. Gov. Kate Brown, D, issued a statement defending Oregon’s race-based program.
“As a state, we have a duty to aid those in need, particularly Oregonians who suffer from systemic racism and are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” Brown said. “The Oregon Cares Fund has been an enormous success, and has provided urgent relief to Black Oregonians, Black-led nonprofits, and Black-owned businesses, which are less likely to have access to federal aid.”
Brown’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on Oregon’s settlement with Garcia.