California to give checks to illegal immigrants

Gavin Newsom

The state of California will distribute payments to illegal immigrants from a new $125 million coronavirus disaster relief fund, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday. [CNN]

In attempt to make up for their exclusion from the $2.2 trillion federal stimulus program, California is offering a one-time benefit of $500 to each adult illegal immigrant in the state, with a cap of $1,000 per household. An estimated 150,000 illegal immigrants are expected to benefit from the program.

The money will come from a fund that combines $75 million in state funds with $50 million contributed by private philanthropists.

“We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportations that are still addressing essential needs of tens of millions of Californians,” Newsom said. “And that’s why I’m proud as governor to be the very first state to announce a program for direct disaster assistance to those individuals.”

Newsom said 10 percent of California’s workforce consists of undocumented immigrants, and they are overrepresented in sectors keeping the state afloat, including health care, agriculture and food, manufacturing and logistics and construction. It is estimated illegal immigrants paid more than $2.5 billion in local and state taxes last year.

The governor suggested $125 million in aid is not enough.

“I’m not here to suggest that $125 million is enough,” Newsom said. “But I am here to suggest it’s a good start, and I’m very proud it’s starting here in the state of California.”

Regional nonprofits with experience serving illegal immigrant communities will disperse the funds. 

This week, legal United States residents began receiving $1,200 checks as part of the stimulus package signed into law by President Donald Trump.