Undocumented Workers Advocacy Letter

Dear Governor Newsom,

While all Californians are struggling with the economic and practical realities of living under a
statewide Shelter In Place Order and the coronavirus pandemic, one group of California residents
will be the hardest hit: undocumented immigrants. More than two million undocumented
immigrants make California their home. Nearly one in ten California workers is an
undocumented worker. Over seventy percent (70%) of undocumented Californians have resided
in the U.S. for more than ten years.

A report from the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy found that undocumented
immigrants contribute over $3 billion dollars in taxes to California. The state controller has
estimated that undocumented immigrant’s labor is worth more than $180 billion per year to
California’s economy.

While many Californians are able to comply with the Shelter in Place Order while continuing to
earn money by working from home, remote work from home is simply not an option for the
majority of California’s undocumented workers. A recent EPI study found that very few
low-wage workers, especially Latinx workers, are able to work remotely. Due to the Shelter in
Place Order, these workers are losing their jobs or having their hours drastically curtailed.
Moreover, even though these workers pay taxes and contribute to the state’s prosperity,
undocumented workers are unable to access vital benefits such as unemployment insurance.
The inability to earn a living will have a devastating impact on undocumented immigrants.
Already, undocumented immigrants are living precariously - over half live at or below 150% of
the poverty level. Accordingly, it is imperative that the state meet these workers’ basic needs so

that they can comply with the Shelter in Place Order without fearing that they will not be able to
feed and house their families.

California has taken the lead in protecting and expanding rights for undocumented immigrants.
A majority of Californians support state and local government action (in the absence of federal
leadership) to protect undocumented immigrants.

We ask for that same leadership to protect our most vulnerable residents during the COVID-19
pandemic. We urge the Governor and the California State Legislature to exercise their authority
to allow access to benefit programs, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, and
immediately take the following actions:

1. Create and fund a “Disaster Relief Fund” housed within the Employment
Development Department (EDD) for undocumented workers, or other workers who are
not eligible for benefits administered by EDD, and who are unable to work as a result of
the COVID-19 pandemic, either because of a lay-off, reduction in hours, a
shelter-in-place order, or because they are taking care of a child whose school or
childcare has closed due to the current pandemic. This “Disaster Relief Fund” shall be
funded exclusively by the State of California, and shall be administered as follows:

a. The EDD shall create an online and paper application similar to the
existing applications for State Disability Insurance or Unemployment Insurance;
b. The Disaster Relief Fund will be administered by EDD’s State Disability
Insurance / Paid Family Leave Unit;
c. The Disaster Relief Fund shall provide qualified individuals with
immediate cash relief until such time as the Emergency Proclamation is lifted or
until the qualified individual is able to return to work;
d. Workers who apply to the fund will have to establish base period earnings
equivalent to what would be required under Unemployment Insurance;
e. Each eligible worker shall receive $600 per week;
f. Multiple forms of identification will be accepted in applications for this
program, such as: identifications issued by the State of California, Individual
Taxpayer Identification Number, Consular Identifications, Passports, or lapsed
Social Security Numbers;
g. Multiple forms of earnings verification will be accepted, including tax
returns and self-reported income;
h. All payments made from the Disaster Relief Fund shall be retroactive to
the date of the Emergency Proclamation or the date that the individual had their
work hours reduced or eliminated, whichever date falls later;

i. The EDD shall immediately increase its staffing in order to administer the
Disaster Relief Fund and expedite processing;
j. All information or documentation obtained by EDD from applicants to the
Disaster Relief Fund be used exclusively for the purposes of administering these
programs and shall not be disclosed to any other entity or individual for any other
purpose; and
k. Implementation of the Disaster Relief Fund shall commence no later than
May 1, 2020.

2. Allocate $10 million to Community Based Organizations that are geographically
diverse serving undocumented immigrants to provide cash benefits to undocumented
immigrants to pay for groceries, rent/mortgage, emergency home repairs,
transportation, medicines, and tools.
3. Broaden eligibility for the California Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), including the
Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC), to include all immigrants, and immediately making it
retroactive to tax year 2019.
4. Commit to establish a permanent income replacement program within the
Employment Development Department for individuals who do not otherwise qualify for
unemployment benefits, but who are unemployed through no fault of their own. This
fund would be administered separately from UI, but using the same criteria for
determining the duration, amount, and timing of benefits.

As organizations supporting the undocumented community, we hear firsthand from workers who
are impacted by the current pandemic. We want to share with you just a few stories to highlight
the need for immediate action on this issue:

“I and my coworkers are not able to work at the moment. Because we are not
generating any income and don’t have any resources that can support us through
this crisis, we plead with you, Governor Newsom, to provide the necessary
support for us workers who also contribute to the economy. I live with my
mother and siblings and help to support the whole family, so the impact is
household-wide. I also support the living costs of my children and at the moment
I no longer have enough. I received $400--one week’s pay from my
restaurant--before it was shut down. We are at home, so we bought food for this
week, but our money is running out. I will not be able to cover the cost of food for
my children. What happens when the $400 runs out?”
- JC, Koreatown Immigrant Worker Alliance member and restaurant worker,
translated from Spanish
Erika is a house cleaner, nanny and caregiver. She has been doing this for 4 years
and absolutely loves this work. However, since the outbreak of the virus, she’s
had all her employers cancel on her and have told her not to come. She says,
“They have basically shut me out.” Her daughter struggles with asthma and now
has a serious bronchitis infection. Erika has no way of paying for her daughter’s
medicine and is trying to borrow money from friends and family but doesn’t
know how much longer she can keep doing that. She does not have any paid time
off or any health insurance and she is asking the government to please include
domestic workers in legislation that will offer them basic benefits and protections
because they are completely vulnerable right now.
- California Domestic Worker Coalition/National Domestic Worker
Mr. Guzman is a florist worker in the Santa Paula area, he regularly worked 50 to
55 hours a week but due to the crisis we are facing, his employer decided to
reduce his hours to just 30 hours a week and fired 15 other workers. He was one
of the 7 lucky ones who still worked with their reduced hours. Mr. Guzman is
very concerned and is constantly looking for another job that will ensure he works
all week. For now, he is the only one supporting 4 children in total a family of 6.
He hopes that this crisis will pass soon, at this point he is more worried about
working than the virus because if he does not his family will have no food.
- Mixteco/Indígena Community Organizing Project (MICOP)’s indigenous
leaders, translated from Spanish
Maximo Alvarado is 46 years old and is a father of 4 in Ventura, CA. He has
owned his landscaping business for over 20 years. He and his wife used to
commute to Santa Barbara 5 days a week to landscape 4 large properties a week,
but now due to the Coronavirus pandemic is only going out two days to do only
one of the properties. His income drastically changed from $2,500 a month to
$900 which doesn't even cover his rent of $1,300. His wife who is an independent
domestic worker recently had all her houses cancel so she has absolutely no
income because of the Coronavirus.
- Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE)
“I've been working at a shirt company for 16 years. All of a sudden last week
without any prior notice, they told us that we were getting laid off. I talked to my
union rep at the company and she told us that we need to file for unemployment.
How am I or any other worker here going to file for unemployment if we have no
documents? Shouldn't we get paid while we are off? How am I going to pay my
bills? How is anyone going to pay their bills? I don't know where to turn or what
to do. How will I provide for my family? How will I pay rent?”

-  - Jose, a garment worker in Los Angeles

California has the second highest statewide concentration of undocumented workers in the
country. The state cannot afford to ignore the suffering of this segment of our community during
an unprecedented public health crisis. We urge the Governor to take immediate steps to provide
relief to undocumented immigrants.


9to5, National Association of Working Women

Amigos de Guadalupe Center for Justice and Empowerment
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - California
Asian Law Alliance
Bet Tzedek
CA Food Policy Advocates
California Association of Food Banks
California Domestic Workers Coalition
California Employment Lawyers Association
California Faculty Association -SF State University
California Immigrant Policy Center
California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA)
California National Organization for Women
California Nonprofits Association
California Reinvestment Coalition
California Women's Law Center
Center for Workers' Rights
Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE)
Centro Laboral de Graton / ALMAS
Centro Legal de la Raza
Children's Defense Fund - California
Chinese Progressive Association
CLEAN Carwash Campaign
Community Bridges
Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto
County Welfare Directors Association
CRLA Foundation
Dolores Street Community Services - La Colectiva / Day Labor Program
East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy
Employee Rights Center
Equal Rights Advocates
Friends Committee on Legislation of California
Future Leaders of America
Garment Worker Center
Golden State Opportunity
GRACE Institute/End Child Poverty in CA
Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network
Healthy Kids Happy Faces
Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco
Human Agenda
Instituto de Educación Popular del Sur de California (IDEPSCA)
Instituto Laboral de la Raza
Jewish Center for Justice
Jobs with Justice San Francisco
KIWA (Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance)
Korean Community Center of the East Bay
La Raza Centro Legal
Labor and Community Studies, City College of San Francisco
Latinos in Action 2020
Legal Aid at Work
Legal Aid of Marin
Los Angeles Worker Center Network
MAIZ San Jose
Mixteco/Indígena Community Organizing Project (MICOP)
National Council of Jewish Women - California
National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles
National Domestic Workers Alliance
National Employment Law Project
National Immigration Law Center
National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles
National Lawyers Guild SF Bay Area Legislative Reform Committee
Never Again UUSF
NorCal Resist
North Bay Organizing Project
Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development
Oxfam America
Parent Voices CA
Partnerships for Trauma Recovery
PAWIS (Pilipino Association of Workers and Immigrants)
Refugee & Immigrant Transitions
Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) the Bay
Sacred Heart Community Service
Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition
Santa Cruz Community Health
Santa Cruz Community Ventures
SEIU California
SEIU-United Service Workers West
Senior and Disability Action
Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network (SIREN)
Street Level Health Project
Thai Community Development Center
The Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund
The Unity Council
TODEC Legal Center
Together We Will - San José
UC Berkeley Labor Occupational Health Program
UCLA Labor Center
UndocuFund for Disaster Relief
UNITE HERE International Union
United Educators of San Francisco
Voices for Progress
Warehouse Worker Resource Center
Western Center on Law and Poverty
Women's Foundation of California
Women’s Employment Rights Clinic -Golden Gate University
Working Partnerships USA
Young Workers United

California Lawmakers
Labor Secretary Su