The money is intended to cover individuals who are left out of the $2trn CARES Act.
Under the CARES Act, many Americans will receive a $1,200 one-time payment to help stimulate the economy while people are under stay-at-home orders. However, certain groups of people – college students whose parents still claim them on their taxes or individuals who file for taxes using a Taxpayer Identification Number rather than a Social Security Number – will not receive funding.
Many immigrants in the country illegally – in California there are an estimated 2 million individuals who are in the state illegally – pay taxes using the Taxpayer Identification Number, and as a result will not be eligible to receive help during the coronavirus shutdowns. $75m of the $125m – dubbed the Disaster Relief Fund – is intended to bridge that gap, providing $500 each to approximately 150,000 adults who were not covered by the CARES Act.
“We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportations that are still addressing essential needs of tens of millions of Californians,” Mr Newsom said.
Mr Newsom also noted that 10 per cent of the state’s workforce is made up of immigrants in the country illegally and that they paid $2.5bn in state and local taxes in 2019, according to The Daily Mail.
The money won’t be distributed directly to individuals in the same way the CARES Act stimulus money, but will instead be dispersed to regional nonprofits. The nonprofits can then distribute the money to individuals in need.
State Republicans are upset about the money’s use, suggesting it should be directed elsewhere. The state Senate’s Republican leader Shannon Grove said the governor should be putting the money toward food banks, educational equipment or toward local governments.
“Instead of meeting these urgent needs, Governor Newsom has chosen to irresponsibly pursue a left-wing path and unilaterally secured $125m for undocumented immigrants,” Ms Grove said.
She is not the first California Republican to suggest that state financial assistance directed toward immigrants in the state illegally is frivolous or non-essential.
Republican state Senator John Moorlach also criticised Mr Newsom’s then-nascent plan to provide financial help to undocumented individuals.
“I would say helping undocumented would be a luxury item,” Mr Moorlach said.
California has provided immigrants in the country illegally with more benefits than any other state. In 2019, it became the first state to provide taxpayer-funded healthcare to poor adults 25 and younger who were in the country illegally, and this year Mr Newsom has proposed those benefits extend to individuals aged six and older.
In addition to the state funded financial aid, a group of charities said it will raise another $50m to add to Mr Newsom’s Disaster Relief Fund to help immigrants in the country illegally.
The Emerson Collective, Blue Shield of California Foundation, the California Endowment, the James Irvine Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and an anonymous donor have all contributed to the fund.
The additional $50m would be able to provide aid to approximately 100,000 people.