NY’s $2.1B Fund Aids Illegal Immigrants Hurt by Pandemic

NY's $2.1B Fund Aids Illegal Immigrants Hurt by Pandemic protesters on street in new york Participants of hunger strike, advocates and local politicians attend excluded workers rally on 3rd avenue in front of Governor office in New York on April 4, 2021. (Lev Radin/Sipa USA via AP Images)

By Jeffrey Rodack | Thursday, 08 April 2021 02:02 PM

New York State will offer one-time payments of up to $15,600 for illegal immigrants who lost work during the pandemic.

As COVID-19 slammed New York a year ago, it eliminated service and construction jobs that kept many undocumented immigrants afloat, according to The New York Times.

The newspaper noted that unemployment insurance and federal stimulus checks are not available to those who are undocumented.

But now lawmakers in the state have approved plans to offer one-time payments to the immigrants who lost work. The lawmakers have set up a $2.1 billion fund to draw from.

Those undocumented immigrants who lost work can get up to $15,600 – an amount equal to $300 a week for the past year. They would have to verify that they were residents of the state, lost income as a result of the pandemic, and were eligible for federal unemployment benefits.

And others who can prove at least their residency and identity, and can show some work documentation, could get as much as $3,200.

The Times said the New York fund is the biggest of its kind in the nation. It is far greater that a similar relief program in California. Officials in that state established a $75 million cash assistance program that gave undocumented immigrants a $500 one-time payment on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Epoch Times noted that Fiscal Policy Institute says about 290,000 people will get money from the New York fund.

The fund found support in both the State Senate and Assembly, which are controlled by Democrats.

"I’ve met neighbors who have not been able to pay rent, or put food on the table, or been able to provide their children with a laptop when a public school has not been able to provide one," said State Sen. Jessica Ramos, a Democrat and chief proponent of the fund.

But the Times pointed out Republicans instantly criticized the measure.

"Democrats are raising taxes and using your federal stimulus dollars to enact a radical agenda rather than helping veterans, small main street businesses, teachers and senior citizens," said Rob Ortt, the Republican minority leader in the State Senate.

The Epoch Times reported New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had pushed for eligibility restrictions.

"Just because you are undocumented doesn’t mean we don’t care and we don’t have compassion and we don’t want to help," he said. "It is difficult to do it in a way that can be administered without fraud. And that’s obviously a major concern for us, that we protect every tax dollar. We ran an unemployment insurance program for citizens of the state. There was tremendous fraud."