California starts giving stimulus money to undocumented immigrants, critics cry foul

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As of May 18, California is offering stimulus payments to undocumented immigrants.

It was a rough start to the first day of processing stimulus payments to undocumented immigrants in California.

The state's website coordinating the program came up empty Monday morning, but by the afternoon, it was up and running, ready to help distribute $125 million.

Advocates say they deserve assistance and will likely use it the same way citizens are using their federal stimulus money.

"Going grocery shopping, paying their bills, paying their car payments, paying for their insurance, taking care of their families and keeping their children in their homes," said Samuel Molina of Mi Familia Vota.

The money goes in $500 increments to adults who didn't qualify for the federal stimulus because of their immigration status, with a maximum of $1000 per household.

California is the first state offering assistance directly to undocumented immigrants.

About $75 million comes from the state and $50 million comes from charities.

The state is funneling it through 12 nonprofit organizations where people can apply for assistance.

The idea is to make sure undocumented immigrants aren't afraid of immigration enforcement when they claim stimulus money.

"Prior to this crisis, we had individuals not wanting to see the doctor, not taking care of their health because of this administration's anti-immigrant attacks," said Molina. "And this pandemic has only exacerbated the situation."

In the Central Valley, the United Farm Workers Foundation and California Rural Legal Assistance are in charge of distributing the money.

Advocates say it could act as a magnet keeping laborers in California who might've left because of the pandemic.

Governor Gavin Newsom estimated 10% of the state's workforce is undocumented.

But critics say the state should spend to support citizens instead, with more money going to food banks, equipment for students doing school online, and local governments losing revenue.

"What I would say to those who oppose thus executive order is that I would encourage them to really educate themselves on how undocumented individuals contribute to our economy," Molina said.

Applications for stimulus money will be accepted until June 30 or until the $125 million fund runs dry.

In Fresno, Kings, Kern, Madera, Merced, Tulare, and Mono counties, you can call the UFW Foundation at (877)527-6660.
In Mariposa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tuolumne, Yolo, and Yuba counties, it's the CRLA Foundation at (877)557-0521.
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