New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday he is open to issuing $600 weekly payments to illegal immigrants who have “lost wages” because of the coronavirus pandemic, but also confirmed that the state is running out of money.
“I’m open-minded to the $600 a week under the theory, as I’ve already mentioned, quite clearly, we’re running out of money,” the Democratic governor said.
The 35-question survey of 226 respondents found that 91 percent of illegal immigrants polled were worried about paying bills, 83 percent were worried about having food for their families and 70 percent were worried about access to medicine for themselves or their families.
“They’re asking for $600 a week in payments to those who have lost wages. Is that something you might do?” Ian Elliot of NJTV News asked the governor.
Murphy acknowledged that he was open to the idea, but he couldn’t commit to it at this time.
“But we want to not just bring, as I’ve said this, not just because I think we’re good guys and gals, but because we’re not going to solve, we’re not going to break the back of this virus unless we bring us all along,” he said.
Judith Persichilli, New Jersey’s Department of Health commissioner, added that any illegal immigrants who cannot access health care should contact the state.
Illegal immigrants in New Jersey paid an estimated $587 million in state and local taxes in 2014, according to the American Immigration Council, an immigrants rights group.
New Jersey’s consideration of providing funds to illegal immigrants comes a week after California Gov. Gavin Newsom 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.
“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,” state Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove told the AP.
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