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Disaster Relief for Undocumented Immigrants

Categories: Activism, News, YWCA-MC Covid-19 News

Disaster Relief for Undocumented Immigrants has become increasingly important. As we continue to navigate the uncertainties caused by COVID-19, concerns about meeting basic needs continue to weigh on individuals and families throughout our state and county. These anxieties are the most profound for people who are marginalized and excluded from equitable access to resources. This pandemic and the ensuing economic instability have most significantly exacerbated vulnerabilities among the undocumented immigrant community.

Over half of undocumented folx live below 150% of the poverty line and are already denied access to public benefits. With the implementation of the statewide shelter-in-place order, many undocumented workers have faced additional employment struggles, either losing their jobs or having hours drastically cut. Research from UC Merced shows that nearly 1 in 4 pandemic job losses in California hit non-citizen immigrants, as immigrant workers are the backbone of the most impacted industries. Many of the undocumented and mixed status families have survived with little to no income since March and no safety net at all. Even though these workers pay taxes and contribute to the economy, they are unable to access unemployment benefits during the economic shutdown.

In an attempt to address the needs of undocumented workers, Governor Newsom announced the creation of the Disaster Relief for Immigrants (DRAI) fund. However, access to these funds has proved extremely challenging thus far. Since the window to apply for DRAI funds opened
earlier this week, we have seen first-hand how difficult it is for clients to simply begin the registration process. Websites and phone lines crashed across the state as families rushed to apply for the first help available to them since the outbreak of the virus. Moreover, the terms of DRAI funding are inadequate to support undocumented individuals and families in California. Even if applicants can meet the DRAI eligibility criteria, a one-time grant of $500 or $1,000 is less than many families need to survive every week.

Our staff have been diligently monitoring the situation and communicating with clients as updates surface. In the meantime, it is apparent that more needs to be done to secure relief for vulnerable members of our community.

YWCA Monterey County calls on the State of California to improve access to relief funding for the undocumented community. We are an active member of The Safety Net for All Coalition, a mobilization effort comprised of over 120 organizations standing in solidarity with the undocumented community in California. Along with these partner agencies, we support efforts
by state legislators to address the glaring gap in relief funding. This Monday, Assembly member Ash Kalra and 13 other state legislators proposed a plan to provide at least 8 weeks of income support to undocumented workers who have been left behind in this crisis. One-time payments will help families get by this week, but with no end to
the pandemic in sight, we need a long-term safety net for all of us to keep Californians safe and healthy. That’s why we strongly support the inclusion of a weekly partial income replacement fund for undocumented workers who have been impacted by COVID-19 in the June budget.Every person should be afforded the right to relief during this pandemic. Please join us in
advocating for a #SafetyNet4AllOfUs by contacting your legislator through the form linked below.


For more information check out these news outlets:

New York Times

LA Times




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