Immigrants who lack legal status can begin applying for state coronavirus relief

Gov. Gavin Newsom has made available disaster assistance payments for Californians living in the U.S. illegally.
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Californians living in the U.S. illegally may begin applying for disaster assistance payments of $500 per person and up to $1,000 per household.

The state government has made available $75 million to help a projected 150,000 immigrants without legal status weather the coronavirus crisis.

To qualify, applicants must show that they are ineligible for federal assistance programs stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the CARES Act or federal unemployment benefits, and that they have endured a hardship from the pandemic. Only adults may apply. A state guide to common questions and answers about the program is posted online.


Twelve nonprofit groups are working with the state government to disburse the aid. The groups help applicants determine if they’re eligible for the assistance, apply for it and deliver payment cards to those who receive it. Applicants must contact the group administering the assistance in their home county.

In Los Angeles County, three groups are administering the relief: the Central American Resource Center, which can be reached at (213) 315-2659; the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, (213) 201-8700 or (213) 395-9547; and Asian Americans Advancing Justice, (213) 241-8880.

The funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis until they are spent or June 30 at the latest.

In what the state calls a “separate but complementary effort,” nonprofit groups have launched a “California Immigrant Resilience Fund” that aims to raise $50 million. These funds will be distributed in cash payments to immigrants without legal status who qualify for neither federal nor state relief.

A conservative group, the Center for American Liberty, sued Gov. Gavin Newsom over his plan to offer relief to those immigrants. The group’s attorney said the $75 million represented taxpayer money to be disbursed as the Legislature decides, “not a slush fund for the governor to spend as he sees fit.”