In a move that will cost taxpayers in California $75 million, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that the state will give up to 150,000 illegal aliens $500 each as part of its coronavirus relief efforts. In announcing the state’s Disaster Relief Fund specifically designed for that purpose, California is now the first state to give coronavirus cash to illegal immigrants. The move comes as Californians have been hit particularly hard by the economic crisis resulting from state-mandated shutdowns.
“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 Wednesday in announcing his decision to direct $75 million of taxpayer money to the relief fund.
Illegal immigrants, of which there are an estimated 2.2 million in California, comprise some 10% of the state’s workforce and account for some $2.5 billion in state and local taxes, the governor claimed.
One potential problem with the plan is widespread fear among illegal immigrants about coming in contact with government entities. In part to address that issue, California state officials will not be the ones deciding which illegal immigrants receive the cash.
“Instead, the state will give the money to a network of regional nonprofits to find and vet potential recipients,” The Associated Press reports. “Advocates say that’s key to making the plan work because immigrants are unlikely to contact the government for fear of deportation.”
While illegal immigrant advocates are cheering the move, not everyone believes it’s wise to hand taxpayer money to those living in the state illegally.
The money would be better directed to initiatives like food banks, local governments facing revenue deficits and providing students equipment for online classes said Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove, AP reports. “Instead of meeting these urgent needs, Governor Newsom has chosen to irresponsibly pursue a left-wing path and unilaterally secured $125 million for undocumented immigrants,” said Grove.
While the state’s governor is allocating taxpayer money for the effort, some charities are also trying to address financial crises facing some illegal immigrants, one group of charities pledging to raise $50 million to help as many 100,000 more immigrants.
Newsom was the first governor to issue a state-wide “stay-at-home” order, bringing California’s massive economy to a screeching halt. Around 2.7 million Californians have filed for unemployment since the shutdown was ordered, which, AP points out, is “more than all of the claims California processed in 2019 combined” and has resulted in the state’s Employment Development Department being “overwhelmed.”
Meanwhile, the state, which has around 40 million residents, has experienced far fewer coronavirus-connected deaths than some other high-population states, particular New York. California has recorded around 27,000 confirmed cases and more than 850 deaths, thus far.
On Thursday, the Labor Department released the fourth week in a row of dire jobless claim numbers. Another 5.2 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, bringing the total number filing jobless claims over last four weeks to nearly 22 million. The Labor Department reports that around 12 million people are now receiving monthly unemployment checks, “a number last reached in January 2010, just after the Great Recession officially ended,” The Daily Wire noted.