California’s pandemic relief for unauthorized persons

On April 15, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $150 million financial relief program for unauthorized “working” persons in the state, most or all of whom are ineligible for unemployment insurance and pandemic disaster relief. This sum is far too little to come close to matching the federal CARES Act support for legal Americans, but the programs are not entirely comparable. Let’s look at the figures. The program, summarized here, opened its doors on May 18 to a stampede of applicants.

Whom is the program targeted at?

The Public Policy Institute of California estimates there are 2.5 million unauthorized persons in the state, a number which has been slightly declining since 2008. About 70% of them are Mexican-born. Many live in households with at least one citizen, for instance another adult who is eligible for unemployment compensation. But (posted here) couples with an unauthorized partner are locked out of federal pandemic aid.

There are about 1.75 million unauthorized workers in the state, and many of them who are on a formal payroll (perhaps half?) likely get state unemployment compensation. And many will be retained at work during this stage of the pandemic through the CARES employee retention credit and other employer-directed programs.

How generous?

The CARES Act provided about $600 billion in financial relief for persons (earning under a high cap)….I roughly guess 90% of legal Americans, say 275 millions, thus equivalent to about $2,000 per person. (Here and here).

California’s program at $150 million is set against 1.75 million persons. That comes to say $100 per unauthorized worker. But the Newsome program was budgeted for up to $500 in individual assistance and a $1,000 in household assistance, in effect for 150,000 persons, or less than 10% of the unauthorized workforce. When the program opened May 18, the intake systems crashed.

Newsom policy announcement of April 15 here.

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