Back to Blog

Press Release: Advocates Applaud Emergency, Short-term Relief for Excluded Workers, and Call for Full Safety Net for All Workers to Meet Humanitarian Crisis

April 15, 2020: Today, Governor Newsom announced the establishment of a public-private partnership to provide disaster relief to undocumented workers. This financial assistance is a crucial stopgap for the survival of many immigrant families until the legislature reconvenes in May.  The announcement comes on the heels of immigrant worker advocates in recent weeks calling for inclusion of undocumented workers in California’s safety net, a call echoed by the state legislature’s influential Latino Caucus and Asian Pacific-Islander Caucus.  Our coalition is greatly appreciative of this support from the Governor, and we applaud his administration’s commitment to the undocumented community in California. We are also grateful for the leadership of the philanthropic community in raising significant dollars for this rapid response fund and highlighting the need for expanded access to the safety net. To date, undocumented workers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis have been almost entirely left out of state and federal aid packages, and the administration’s swift action provides crucial assistance to essential members of our communities.  In his announcement, the Governor recognized that undocumented workers make up one in ten California workers and are essential to the fabric of the state’s economy and society.

However, this is just the first step. The $125 million that has been designated to this emergency relief fund will likely only be sufficient to assist about 250,000 individuals, a fraction of the state’s one and a half million undocumented workers.  Under this new program, workers will receive a one-time emergency grant that is less than what other workers will be able to count on weekly from unemployment insurance to support their families.

“This gets food on the table today for families who’ve had no grocery money for weeks. Next we need the Governor and legislature working together on a permanent solution so all immigrant families can keep food on the table and bills paid in the coming months of this crisis,” said Elly Matsumura. “We agree with the Governor that this needs to be a bridge to a transformed safety net for all of us.”

Currently, undocumented workers are entirely excluded from unemployment insurance that make up the centerpiece of the safety net for Californians who have become unemployed due to the COVID-19 crisis.  We need the State of California to provide on-going income replacement to undocumented workers who have lost work or hours as a result of this crisis, on par with what other workers are receiving.

“Immigrant families are essential to the social fabric of this state.” said Kimberly Alvarenga, Executive Director of the California Domestic Worker Coalition.  “Undocumented workers contribute over $3 billion each year in taxes, they grow and prepare our food, care for our loved ones, and build our homes.”

“We applaud Governor Newsom for his bold and much needed initiative. This is a recognition of the fact that immigrant families are essential to our state. Their economic and labor contributions are keeping us going.  This pandemic will affect us all for a while. We look forward to working with the state to ensure this program is successful as we continue to work for permanent relief for Californian immigrants,” said Angelica Salas, Executive Director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA).


A link to the letter that the Safety Net for All Coalition issued to Governor Newsom in March is available here: https://bit.ly/Safety-Net-For-All-Coalition-Letter

Worker stories available upon request.  Contact:

Bet Tzedek contact: