CA Gov. Gavin Newsom provides $75M in state funds to undocumented workers

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday the distribution of $75 million in state funds to provide financial support for undocumented individuals affected by the coronavirus.

The $75 million in statewide disaster relief assistance funding will support about 150,000 adult undocumented residents who are ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits and disaster relief, according to Newsom’s press release. The undocumented individuals impacted by the pandemic will receive a one-time payment of $500 per adult, with a maximum of $1,000 per household.

“This is a state where 27% of us are foreign-born,Newsom said at a press conference Wednesday. “That’s diversity at a scale that doesn’t exist in any other state in our nation, and regardless of your status — documented or undocumented — there are people in need, and this is a state that steps up always to support those in need.”

Applications for financial support from the state funds will open next month, according to the press release. The money will be dispersed through community-based regional nonprofits with expertise serving undocumented individuals.

In addition to the $75 million in state funding, a philanthropy effort has been established to raise $50 million to further support the families of undocumented immigrants, according to the press release.

More locally, the city of Berkeley has been providing services and relief to undocumented residents, which City Councilmember Sophie Hahn said reflects the city’s commitment to helping all struggling residents regardless of immigration status.

On Monday, more than 100 Bay Area elected officials wrote to Newsom calling for long-term relief for the more than 3 million undocumented Californians, 500,000 of whom are Bay Area residents, according to City Councilmember Rigel Robinson.

“Undocumented immigrants are woven deeply into the fabric of our communities – caring for and providing essential services that power California every single day,” the elected officials wrote in their message to Newsom. “The health of our entire state depends on a support system that includes everyone.”

According to the message from the elected officials, the immigration status of nearly one in 10 California workers has prohibited them from receiving income support and other COVID-19 relief measures provided by the federal government.

The elected officials have joined the California Latino Legislative Caucus in the state Assembly and other advocates in calling for the state government to create a Disaster Relief Fund by May 1 for undocumented workers unable to work during the pandemic and extend MediCal benefits to all low-income undocumented adults, among other demands.

Undocumented services in Berkeley include a relief fund that is issuing grants to small businesses, arts organizations and struggling renters, regardless of their documentation status, Hahn said. Berkeley is also providing universal relief from paying rent to residents affected by COVID-19.

“Berkeley is a sanctuary city, and we have a decades-long track record of looking out for, supporting and providing for undocumented people,” Hahn said. “That is something that will continue.”

Contact Maxine Mouly at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @moulymaxine.