Coronavirus: California closes disaster relief assistance applications for undocumented immigrants

More than 150,000 undocumented immigrants in California applied for state-funded disaster relief assistance before the state stopped taking applications at its Tuesday deadline.

California has already paid out more than $41 million in assistance and expects to disburse $125 million to individuals who are ineligible for other forms of economic assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic due to their immigration status.

Of the $125 million, $75 million is being provided by state funds for disaster relief assistance and the additional $50 million was pledged by a group of philanthropic partners.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state’s Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants in April, which was created to give $500 payments to undocumented adults who qualify and were ineligible to receive pandemic unemployment benefits or assistance under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The application process ran from May 18-June 30 and while qualifying individuals were eligible for $500 of assistance, payments were capped at $1,000 per household.

Of the roughly 150,000 applicants expected to receive financial assistance, 30,000 are in the Bay Area and have already had applications approved. A regional application summary shows more than 26,000 undocumented immigrants in Bay Area counties including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco have received their payments.

The California Department of Social Services chose 12 organizations that serve undocumented immigrants to help individuals apply for and receive funds in their region. Catholic Charities of California was selected to disburse funds in the Bay Area.

Nearly 10% of California’s workforce is undocumented and when the governor announced the program, he noted that undocumented individuals contributed $2.5 billion in state and local taxes last year.

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Author: Kerry Crowley