California providing relief checks for undocumented people

Coronavirus

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — More help is coming for California residents hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, including those who don’t have legal immigration status in the country.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the move Wednesday, saying undocumented people make up about 10% of California’s workforce, and that they are “over-represented” in essential sectors that continue to serve people during the pandemic, including health care, agriculture, food service and construction jobs.

Newsom announced a first-in-the-nation plan Wednesday for California to spend $75 million on direct relief for undocumented people, an expense that will be matched by charitable partners, who will contribute an additional $50 million.

Day laborer Jose Deodanes holds a sign as day laborers and their supporters participate in a “Caravan for Essential and Excluded Workers” to call on California Governor Gavin Newsom to ensure that COVID-19 related emergency financial aid from the federal CARES Act reaches day laborers, undocumented workers and their families in Los Angeles, California during coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on April 14, 2020. (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

That $125 million will be distributed to undocumented people who have not been able to tap into state health resources and unemployment insurance, and who are ineligible for federal benefits, including stimulus payments.

Checks will be provided directly to individuals and will range from $500 to $1,000, the governor said.

Newsom said the money will be distributed as grants to community groups, who will work directly with undocumented people, protecting their personal information while providing the funds.

“All of us are in this together,” Newsom said, adding that undocumented people can also take advantage of MediCal benefits with “presumptive eligibility” to get tested and treated for the virus at hospitals and clinics.

The governor argued that “direct disaster assistance” was not just the “ethical” choice, but the “economic” one, because allowing undocumented people from getting sick, spreading the illness and ending up in emergency rooms will ultimately cost taxpayers more money than caring for their needs.

California is the first state in the country to announce such a plan in light of the pandemic.

More details about the program are available here.

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