FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Assembly Bill 2847, or the "Unemployment: Excluded Workers Pilot Program" is making its way through the California Legislature.
The bill would set aside $597 million to unemployment insurance benefits for undocumented workers in the state.
Research at UC Merced shows 140,000 people could benefit, possibly boosting the local economy.
Edward Flores, UC Merced community and labor center Faculty Director says, "This system would be important because currently, undocumented immigrants are federally prohibited from receiving federal unemployment insurance benefits."
Flores says during the pandemic, the average unemployed Californian was eligible for $35,000 in benefits, -- money not available right now to undocumented immigrants.
"Consequences of not having a safety net for vulnerable workers, if they may experience abusive working conditions, they may feel they don't have the ability to exercise their rights as workers," mentions Flores.
The proposal calls for providing $300 a week for 20 weeks to unemployed undocumented workers in California.
Eulalio Gomez, a representative with the Fresno Republican Party says the money should go towards California citizens who are financially struggling.
"My position is based on single parents, middle class, lower middle-class Californians hurting right now due to the high cost of groceries, gas, crime rate, homelessness. There is a lot of pain in California," says Gomez.
The total cost of the program would be $690 million.
It would come from the General Fund, tax dollars undocumented workers also pay into currently.
"Based on that they should have some access to it, but not as a giveaway. Maybe help them with education or help them with certain things to stabilize their lives and get them to the pathway of citizenship." says Gomez.
If passed, the program could go into effect next year. A committee would then submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature by the year 2025, where the program could potentially be made permanent.
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