Coronavirus: Newsom, nonprofits pledge $125 million for undocumented immigrants (SF Chronicle)

Apr 16, 2020

California will partner with philanthropists to provide $125 million to undocumented immigrants facing financial hardships during the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.

The state will contribute $75 million in disaster-relief assistance, Newsom said, while several nonprofit foundations committed to raising $50 million through the new California Immigrant Resilience Fund.

An estimated 150,000 undocumented adults in California will receive a one-time cash payment of $500 with a cap of $1,000 per household to deal with the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund — believed to be the first of its kind in the nation — will address a critical need for families who were left out of the federal stimulus package. Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits and disaster relief under the CARES Act due to their immigration status.

“This is a state that steps up always to support those in need, regardless of status,” Newsom said during a news conference Wednesday.

An estimated 2.5 million undocumented immigrants live in California, according to the Public Policy Institute. They paid more than $2.5 billion in state and local taxes last year and account for about 10% of the state‘s workforce, Newsom said.

Many of these jobs can be found in the service industry, which has been disrupted by mass closures because of the state’s shelter-in-place policy, leaving countless families with no income.

“An overrepresentation of that workforce is undocumented in the areas that are so essential to meeting the needs of tens of millions of Californians today,” Newsom said. “In the health care sector, in the agriculture and food sector, in the manufacturing and logistics sector, and in the construction sector.”

Erika Garcia, 44, of Windsor, is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who cleans houses in Sonoma County. With the state under a stay-at-home order, Garcia, a mother of two teenage children, has been left without work.

“I’m glad that the governor addressed this openly, despite knowing he’d have critics and people against this,” Garcia said. “He said it openly and acknowledged the large amount of immigrant families in our state and the contributions they make to the state’s economy.”

Philanthropists will direct their donations to Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, a network of foundations focused on immigration issues. The network established the California Immigrant Resilience Fund and received about $6 million in initial investments from Emerson Collective, Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California Endowment, The James Irvine Foundation, The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and an anonymous donor, among others, according to Newsom’s office.

“The Resilience Fund will provide immediate relief to some of our most vulnerable neighbors right now, while building long-term support for California’s families and communities in the future,” Daranee Petsod, president of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, said in a statement Wednesday.

Individuals can apply starting next month.

Other donors include: the California Wellness Foundation; Sunlight Giving; the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund; the Marin Community Foundation; the Silicon Valley Community Foundation; and the Akonadi Foundation.

“The social and economic vitality of California owes in large measure to the steady flow of immigration into our state,” Dr. Thomas Peters, president and CEO of the Marin Community Foundation, said in a statement. “Now in this hour of extreme need, surely it is time to reciprocate the level of support, care, and contribution these new residents have always brought.”

Tatiana Sanchez and Alexei Koseff, San Francisco Chronicle

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