SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- California will give cash payments to immigrants living in the country illegally, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday, using a mix of taxpayer money and charitable contributions to give 150,000 adults $500 each during the coronavirus outbreak.
California has an estimated 2 million immigrants living in the country illegally. They are not eligible for the $2.2 trillion stimulus package approved by Congress last month, which gives cash payments to most Americans plus boosts unemployment benefits by $600 per week.
"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," said Newsom, who noted 10% of the state's workforce are immigrants living in the country illegally who paid more than $2.5 billion in state and local taxes last year.
Taxpayers are kicking in $75 million for the money, while a group of charities has committed to raise another $50 million for a total of $125 million. A group of charities has already donated $5.5 million for the fund, including the Emerson Collective, Blue Shield of California Foundation, the California Endowment, the James Irvine Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and an anonymous donor.
Newsom said the money will not be distributed based on income. "Their personal information will not be required to get those support," he said.
California has been the most aggressive state in the nation when it comes to giving benefits to immigrants living in the country illegally. Last year, California became the first state to give taxpayer funded health benefits to low-income adults 25 and younger living in the country illegally. This year, Newsom had proposed expanding those benefits to seniors 65 and older.