Despite facing staggering job losses, California’s two million undocumented immigrants are ineligible for most federal and state relief. On April 15, Newsom announced a $75 million disaster relief fund to provide a one-time payment of $500 to 150,000 immigrants ineligible for other pandemic relief on a first-come, first-serve basis. Philanthropists had also committed to raising another $50 million, Newsom said.
On May 18, the nonprofits selected by the state to distribute the aid began taking applications by phone. Immediately, they were swamped with millions of calls — a signal of the depth of need.
To date, 82,000 recipients have received over $32.2 million in pre-paid cards. But there’s a bottleneck at the nonprofits which are “working around the clock literally” to interview and verify the eligibility of each applicant, said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition of Human Rights in Los Angeles, which fields applications there. Each day her organization can only interview about 1,200 and 1,500 of the 600,000 to 800,000 people who try to get through the phone line, she said.
Meanwhile, philanthropists have raised $39.7 million towards the $50 million goal, which is distributed by a network of local community organizations on a rolling basis.
To apply for the state relief, California’s Department of Social Services directs people to contact the nonprofit serving your area before June 30. Find an organization distributing philanthropic relief here or make a donation here.