To the editor: Gov. Gavin Newsom took an important step recently, announcing a one-time, $125-million, public-private partnership to provide disaster relief to undocumented workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This shifts the disaster response narrative to include everyone who calls California home, regardless of immigration status.
Direct cash assistance will help workers who have lost their jobs. It is a great start, but it is not enough.
As Newsom noted, the $125-million emergency relief fund will assist only 150,000 individuals, or 10% of the 1.5 million undocumented workers in California. Together, these people pay about $3.2 billion annually in state and local taxes.
Immigrant justice advocates have long called for California to expand its safety net to include the undocumented community. We urge Newsom to expand the social infrastructure to include all Californians so that immigrant communities have access to critical financial assistance and healthcare. When we protect others, we also protect ourselves.
Now is the time to make this assistance permanent.
Cynthia Buiza, Los Angeles
The writer is executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center.