California Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced a $125-million relief effort for illegal immigrants in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportation but are still addressing the essential needs of tens of millions of Californians,” Newsom said.
“A total of $125 million to provide individual assistance of $500 and household assistance up to $1,000 for those individuals that are quite literally putting themselves on the line in helping support this economy and those most in need at this moment.”
According to the Democratic governor, 10 percent of the state’s workforce are illegal immigrants who paid over $2.5 billion in state and local taxes last year.
Newsom announced he would spend $75 million of taxpayer money to create the Disaster Relief Fund for illegal immigrants. Nonprofit organizations have pledged to raise an additional $50 million for the fund.
“This is a recognition of the fact that immigrant families are essential to our state,” Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, told the Los Angeles Times.
“Their economic and labor contributions are keeping us going.”
Immigrant rights activist Jose Antonio Vargas praised the governor’s announcement on Twitter.
“Thank you for remembering that undocumented Californians are an inextricable part of our state,” he tweeted.
Dear Gov. @GavinNewsom:
As an undocumented immigrant who was raised in California and call the Bay Area my home, thank you. Thank you for remembering that undocumented Californians are an inextricable part of our state.
— Jose Antonio Vargas (@joseiswriting) April 15, 2020
State Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove was not impressed with the action and said the governor should be spending the money on food banks, equipment for online education and local governments instead.
“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,” Grove told the AP.
As of Thursday morning, there are 26,686 cases of COVID-19 in California and 861 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins.
Newsom’s Wednesday announcement brings the amount of money he has committed in response to the coronavirus to over $2 billion.
State lawmakers are scheduled to have their first oversight hearing on the spending on Thursday.
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