California Creates $75 Million COVID-19 Relief Fund to Support Undocumented Immigrants—It is an Important Step, But More is Needed

California’s ‘Stay Home’ order is a crucial public safety measure designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Unfortunately, a consequence of the temporary closure of non-essential businesses is a significant economic dislocation. While there are state and federal policies in place to help provide financial relief to people in need, undocumented immigrants have largely been left out.

Our state’s leaders are finally taking some action to change that: As reported by CBS News, California has created a $75 million fund to provide financial help to undocumented immigrants and their families. Here, our California immigration lawyer provides an overview of the relief fund and explains why undocumented immigrants need more financial support to help stop the coronavirus.

A One-Time Cash Payment of $500 for 150,000 Undocumented Immigrants in California

On April 15th, the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state government will be using $75 million in disaster relief funds to provide economic support to undocumented immigrants. According to the press release, the payment will be:

  • A one-time $500 cash payment to qualifying individuals; and
  • A one-time $1,000 cash payment to certain households. 

In total, California officials estimate that approximately 150,000 people will be eligible for financial support through the disaster relief program. The state is planning on rolling out an application form early next month. If you are or your loved one is an undocumented immigrant in California, be sure to watch for updates. The state has put together a ‘Guide for Immigrant Californians’. 

Economic Insecurity Undermines Social Distancing

The $500 cash assistance payments to undocumented immigrants is a much needed first step. In rolling out this program, California has taken the lead among U.S. states. However, these payments are still insufficient to offer immediate financial assistance that many undocumented immigrants need to survive. Generally, undocumented workers have been left out of federal economic programs and state/federal unemployment programs. 

The lack of financial security is both an economic program and a public health program. As described by the American Red Cross, social distancing is one of the key tools we have to fight the coronavirus. Economic insecurity severely undermines social distancing. Undocumented immigrants who lack income may not be able to remain at home—certainly not for several months. The Center for American Progress (CAP) notes that all future COVID-19 relief measures should “actively include provisions aimed at extending protections to undocumented workers and their families.” If state and federal leaders fail to offer help, they are undermining public health and safety. 

We Advocate for Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles

At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we are incredibly passionate about advocating for immigrants and fighting for immigrant rights. If you need legal advice, our lawyer is here to help. For a confidential immigration guidance, please call us today. We represent clients in Los Angeles and throughout the surrounding region in Southern California.