California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced a new program aimed at providing aid to a group that he said makes up 10 percent of the state’s workforce: Undocumented immigrants.
Newsom said that the disaster assistance program would be jointly funded by the state, to the tune of $75 million, and philanthropic partners, who will donate $50 million.
The program will provide individual assistance of $500 and household assistance up to $1,000.
Newsom pointed out that undocumented immigrants not only are over-represented in essential work sectors including health care, agriculture and food, manufacturing and construction, they also pay into the system — last year paying more than $2.5 billion in taxes — without receiving benefits, whether it’s unemployment or the stimulus checks sent out by the federal government.
“Regardless of your status, documented or undocumented, there are people in need. And this is a state that steps up always to support those in need, regardless of status,” Newsom said.
Newsom said California will be the first state to offer direct disaster assistance to undocumented immigrants.
The governor said the state’s efforts are not limited just to direct financial relief for undocumented immigrants.
Newsom said that he is allowing undocumented immigrants to have presumptive eligibility, through the state’s Medi-Cal system, to get tested at community clinics, allowing those clinics to get reimbursed not just for the test, but also treatment related to COVID-19.
“Remember, in the United States of America we have universal health care. It’s in the emergency rooms. And you as a taxpayer pay exponentially more on the back end than providing the kind of preventative care on the front end that costs you less as a taxpayer and helps keep more of us healthier and safer,” Newsom said.
The governor said that it is important with communicable diseases to make sure that people know that they can have access to testing, as well as treatment should they test positive.
“This is a good health strategy, and it’s the right moral and ethical, and I would argue economic, thing to do,” Newsom said.
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