May 26, 2020

California’s undocumented workers flood agencies with calls in search of coronavirus relief

Yosadara Miron had Monday, May 18, circled on her calendar for two weeks.

It was the day that she and more than 2 million other undocumented immigrants in California could begin to apply for a $125 million program, made up of state and private funds, that would provide one-time payments of $500 per individual adults or up to $1,000 per household.

“I was ready at 9 a.m. and had my personal information and tax identification number ready to give them,” said Miron, who lives in Pomona with her husband and two children. “We wanted to be one of the first people to call and apply.”

Her husband lost his job as a manager at a seafood restaurant in March, she said, and hasn’t had any income in two months.

But on Monday, she was greeted with jammed phone lines and crashed websites due to high demand and interest in the program. Making matters worse, the state issued last-minute direction that callers needed to reach a live person in order to apply for aid.

“I called and called and didn’t get through till 5 p.m. on Monday,” Miron said. “I had to keep trying because we have no other options for help. Now I’m waiting to see if that help is coming.”

Miron and her husband are among the thousands of undocumented workers in the state who don’t qualify for federal assistance or stimulus checks due to their legal status. That’s why when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the undocumented coronavirus relief fund in mid-April, many immigrant rights and nonprofit groups applauded the state’s efforts. California is currently the only state using taxpayer money to assist undocumented workers.

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The program will give $75 million in cash assistance to an estimated 150,000 applicants. Philanthropic organizations and private donors have pledged an additional $50 million to help another 100,000 individuals and families. The funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis until they are spent or June 30, whichever comes first.

To ease privacy concerns about personal information ending up in the hands of federal immigration authorities, the state’s Department of Social Services sent the money to 12 nonprofit groups that will disburse the aid. The organizations are tasked with helping applicants determine if they’re eligible for the program, as well as delivering payment cards to those who are granted aid. Applicants’ information is not to be shared with the state during the process.

To qualify for the aid, applicants must show that they are ineligible for federal assistance programs stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, like the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act, and other federal unemployment benefits, and that they have endured a hardship from the pandemic. Only adults may apply.

Hotline numbers for the agencies helping in each county can be found on the Department of Social Service’s website.

Asking For Help

The TODEC Legal Center, a nonprofit in Riverside County, is one of those 12 organizations tasked with helping and disbursing aid to undocumented workers in the greater Inland Empire. According to Luz Gallegos, community programs director, …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News


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