California plans $125 million in relief to immigrants without legal status. Here are details

California plans $125 million relief to immigrants without legal status. Here is how it would work
California plans $125 million relief to immigrants without legal status. Here is how it would work
(Associated Press)

Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced a $125-million relief effort due to the coronavirus crisis for immigrants without legal status.

“We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportation but are still addressing the essential needs of tens of millions of Californians” in food gathering and other tasks, the governor said.

Here is what we know about the plan:

  • The proposal, he said, will offer $500 cash grants for individuals in the U.S. illegally and up to $1,000 for families, with applications set to be accepted starting next month.
  • It is partly funded by nonprofit organizations and would provide cash grants to individuals and families in need. A group of 23 state assembly members sent a letter to Newsom last week asking him to create such a fund.
  • The money will be disbursed through regional nonprofit groups with experience serving people who are in the country illegally, the governor said. Newsom didn’t offer specifics on all the nonprofit organizations involved but named a few — including those founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs; and by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan Zuckerberg.

The assistance is being offered, Newsom said, because only citizens and others who are in the U.S. legally are able to receive unemployment benefits or support under the new federal program for independent contractors.


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Newsom noted that undocumented workers make up 10% of the California workforce and that they are overrepresented in providing essential services such as healthcare, food and construction.

“This is a recognition of the fact that immigrant families are essential to our state,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights. “Their economic and labor contributions are keeping us going.”

Immigrant rights activist Jose Antonio Vargas praised Newsom on Twitter: “Thank you for remembering that undocumented Californians are an inextricable part of our state.”

But there was also a backlash by conservatives and those who oppose illegal immigration. Some created a #recallnewsom hashtag on Twitter.

State Sen. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) told the Associated Press she thought the money could be better spent elsewhere, such as on food banks or education.