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California to provide assistance for immigrant, undocumented communities

Gov. Newsom announced California is the first state in the nation to ever provide disaster assistance for these communities.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —

Ten percent of California's workforce is undocumented, and many are working in fields essential to the 40 million people in the state, like healthcare, agriculture, food and manufacturing, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a coronavirus update Wednesday. 

The point being, he said, there is a real-time need in the state's immigrant communities during the ongoing pandemic. Whether documented or undocumented, all immigrants and foreign-born Californians will have access to the state's disaster assistance program. 

Disaster Assistance Program

As undocumented communities do not benefit from unemployment insurance or President Trump's stimulus plan, the governor announced $125 million has been sourced to offer assistance between $500 and $1,000 per person to help families in need. 

"Many mixed-status families are having a hard time taking care of their children and taking care of you and your loved," Newsom said. "In skilled nursing facilities, on the job site making sure your food is procured and distributed and making sure you have the ability to go to the grocery store and find something stocked there."

Newsom made it a point of pride that California is the first state in the country to create this kind of program. He also made it clear that personal information like legal status in the state will not be required to get support and there are no income goals or limits to meet. 

California will put up $75 million for the program, with an additional $50 million coming from philanthropic donations. Acknowledging that $125 million isn't nearly enough, the governor said it's at least a start for those individuals to receive help. 

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Other Assistance

At this time, California is also allowing "presumptive eligibility" to medical benefits, meaning that all in the state, including those who are undocumented, can get tests and treatment for COVID-19 and be reimbursed. 

Highlights from April 15th announcement: 

  • Temporary hospitals: When asked if the state overspent on temporary hospitals that are currently not in use, Gov. Newsom said the state is prepared for any surge that may come. "We're not outta the woods," Newsom said, making it clear that surges could be possible once stay-at-home orders are loosened. 
  • Testing sites: Gov. Newsom said the state has identified 637 additional sites for testing centers, which includes some hospitals and areas where a drive-up will be possible. 
  • Current testing ability: The state now has the capability to do 94,000 tests in California daily, according to Dr. Mark Ghaly, the California health and human services agency secretary. Ghaly said state officials are now working to devise a plan to do so. The state's goal is to perform 10,000 each day beginning on April 14. 
  • Hospitalizations and persons with COVID-19 in ICU: Newsom said hospitalizations are 1.5% up but persons in need of ICU care are .2% down.

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