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California to offer COVID-19 relief checks to undocumented immigrants

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGET) — California is the first state in the country to offer COVID-19 relief checks to undocumented immigrants.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that undocumented immigrants will get direct disaster relief payments amid California’s COVID-19 crisis.

“Regardless of your status documented, or undocumented, there are people in need,” he said.

Newsom said individual workers will get $500 or up to $1,000 per family. The $125 million dollar effort is a blend of state and philanthropic funding.

Undocumented immigrants make up 10% of California’s workforce.

“In the areas that are so essential in meeting the needs of Californians today. In the healthcare sector, in AG and food sector, in manufacturing and logistics sector, and in the construction sector. there’s an overrepresentation of people without documentation,” Newsom said.

Newsom also announced independent contractors and gig workers can apply for unemployment benefits under a new state plan. The governor says gig companies will have to provide wage information to the state for their employees to be eligible.

The program launches April 28.

“We are going to be turning around payments within 24-48 hours so those first payments should be out by April 20,” California Secretary of Labor and Workforce Julie Su said.

Wednesday’s set of announcements comes as unemployment claims in California hit 2.7 million.

Newsom is taking executive action to add hundreds of staff to the state’s employee development department and call center to handle the massive load of claims.

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