Locked out of state unemployment benefits, hundreds of thousands of out-of-work immigrants are facing additional hurdles to tap into a new California program offering a $500 one-time payment during the COVID-19 pandemic to those without legal status.
Struggling to pay living expenses, immigrant workers are finding jammed phone lines and overwhelmed staff at the nonprofits tasked with distributing the funds as they compete for a dwindling pot of money that state officials acknowledge isn’t enough to help all who need it.
Efforts to rally private contributions to supplement the $75 million in taxpayer money set aside for the program by Gov. Gavin Newsom have so far fallen short of meeting a $50-million goal.
Now, amid the problems, a group of legislators including state Sen. Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) have called for an expansion of the program to better address the needs of underemployed and unemployed immigrants, proposing an additional $400 per week for eight weeks.
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