Local immigrant-rights advocates Wednesday hailed a $125 million state relief program that will provide financial assistance to undocumented immigrants during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said the program, the first of its kind in the nation, will include $75 million in state funding and another $50 million donated by various organizations and foundations, including The California Endowment, Blue Shield of California Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
"California is the most diverse state in the nation,'' Newsom said. "Our diversity makes us stronger and more resilient. Every Californian, including our undocumented neighbors and friends, should know that California is here to support them during this crisis. We are all in this together.''
Newsom said the fund will benefit undocumented immigrants who are ineligible for unemployment benefits and will not receive federal stimulus checks from the IRS. He said about 150,000 people will receive a one-time benefit of $500 -- with a cap of $1,000 per household. Additional funding will be available to support the families of undocumented immigrants.
"Today's announcement is a necessary first step to close the widening gap between immigrants and vital assistance that could mean the difference between life and death for millions of Californians,'' said Pablo Alvarado, co-director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network in Los Angeles.
"…Our hope is that the actions taken by Governor Newsom today will catalyze public and private partnerships to encourage additional measures to ensure that all people in California -- regardless of immigration status -- receive equal protection under the law.''
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Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, also hailed the move, calling it a "bold and much-needed initiative.''
"Immigrants are one-third of the workers in California who are in the front lines fighting COVID-19,'' she said. "Their loved ones are hurting from this pandemic, yet the federal government has ignored them. This is an important first stop in California's recognition of the humanity and contributions are keeping us going.''
Newsom also announced that additional staffers will be assigned to help with the surge in unemployment claims in state, while also helping to expedite federal benefits to workers such as the self-employed and people classified as independent contractors -- such as Uber and Lyft drivers and other so-called gig workers.