We Support Immigrant Workers
Natural disasters and the pandemic have underscored the urgent need for protections for immigrant workers in California.
Immigrants are the Hardest Hit, Least Protected in California
Immigrants have done the most essential, dangerous work to support our state through the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a UC Merced study, immigrants made up 58% of pandemic-related deaths in California’s ten highest-risk industries. Immigrants in California have also been hit hardest by job losses during the pandemic. A June 2020 UC Merced report showed job loss was highest among immigrants, with 29.5% of non-citizen workers losing jobs, and 36.3% of non-citizen women workers losing jobs, shares far higher than the national average.
Exclusion from the safety net has wiped out many immigrant families’ life savings, caused people to go thousands of dollars into debt, and forced others to risk their lives in order to make ends meet. Despite representing 1 in 10 workers in California, and working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, the average undocumented immigrant has been categorically excluded from over $35,000 in combined stimulus and unemployment benefits that most other California workers received. The Golden State Stimulus and the Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI) programs were important first steps, but one-time payments are wholly insufficient to allow people to survive any real disaster or sudden job loss.
California Must Lead the Way to a Safety Net for Excluded Workers
We need a permanent, state funded wage replacement program for workers who are excluded from Unemployment Insurance. California has joined many other states in creating relief funds to ensure that undocumented residents are not excluded from safety net programs during major disprutions like the COVID-19 pandemic — but we can’t stop there. In 2021, New York created a $2.1 billion Excluded Workers Fund to support immigrant workers excluded from federal stimulus and unemployment benefits, as well as a $27 million relief fund for undocumented workers affected by Hurricane Ida.
We’re calling on California to build on this momentum and fund our state’s excluded workers. The COVID-19 pandemic and recent California wildfires are not the first—and won’t be the last disasters to put thousands of Californians out of work through no fault of their own, & immigrant workers cannot continue to be excluded from financial relief or recourse.
Header Photo Credit: Brooke Anderson