Safety Net for All

Undocumented Workers Contribute Billions in Taxes but Receive No Unemployment Benefits

Credit: Dave Granlund, PoliticalCartoons.com

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Dear Senators Jackson and Stern, and Assemblymembers Irwin, Limón, and Cunningham,

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe economic hardship in our community, showing us that everyone deserves a strong safety net they can count on to support their families through difficult times. However, thousands of local immigrant families are losing their livelihoods every day and are struggling for survival while excluded from basic safety net programs like unemployment insurance and federal stimulus support.

One in 10 California workers is undocumented, with an even greater share in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties in key industries like agriculture and hospitality that depend on immigrant workers. While Californians remain committed to socially isolate and do everything possible to protect lives, many immigrant workers such as hotel and restaurant workers, housekeepers, gardeners and farmworkers work in jobs that simply cannot be done remotely, causing detrimental impacts on immigrant families and their livelihoods.

The emergency stopgap funding of $75 million provided by the Newsom administration to aid undocumented workers is helpful, and there is still much more that needs to be done to protect immigrant families in our state who are suffering from job loss, without access to unemployment insurance.

More than 2.5 million undocumented immigrants call California home. The recently announced Disaster Relief Fund only provides enough funding for 1 in 10 undocumented people to receive a one-time check for $500 dollars each, which is less than other workers can count on from Unemployment Insurance to support their families every single week. This is enough funding for a fraction of California’s immigrant families to put food on the table for now, but not enough to sustain our communities through the duration of the crisis with necessities like rent, bills and groceries.

Locally, the 805 Undocufund, a charitable fund to raise donations for immigrant workers, closed its waiting list after over 7,000 families signed up, five times the amount of families who applied during the greatest natural disaster to hit our region in recent memory, the Thomas Fire and resulting mudslides.

One-time checks provide a small and temporary relief for some families, but California can take the lead in creating real systematic change that will ensure no family is excluded from our safety net, regardless of status. We urge the Governor and the State Legislature to exercise their authority to put an end to the exclusion of undocumented workers from California’s safety net, and provide weekly income support for all workers whose families are struggling due to job loss during this crisis.

California can do this by committing to establishing 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.

Undocumented workers already contribute over $3 billion dollars in taxes to California each year, without being able to access many of the benefits of doing so. The Unemployment Insurance system in particular is funded by employer payroll taxes, including taxes on the wages of undocumented workers. We must end this injustice and ensure that the hard-earned taxes of these individuals provide the same safety net that protects everyone else during these difficult times.

As organizations and community leaders in the Central Coast region, we hear firsthand from workers who are impacted by the current pandemic. We ask for your leadership as our representatives in Sacramento to support all Californians, especially those who have been left out by the federal administration.

Signed by: Maricela Morales, Executive Director, Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy
Eder Gaona-Macedo, Executive Director, Future Leaders of America
Arcenio J. Lopez, Executive Director, Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project
Marcos Vargas, Executive Director, Fund for Santa Barbara
Yesenia Decasaus, United Domestic Workers
Lorenzo Moraza, Santa Paula Latino Town Hall
Dr. Maria Munguia Wellman, Santa Paula Latino Town Hall
Carolina Gallardo-Magaña, Southwinds Neighborhood Council
Jack Hinojosa, CEO, Child Development Resources of Ventura County, Inc. (CDR)
Steven T. Auclair, Club President, Greater Oxnard Organization of Democrats
Francisco Barba President AMAE
Leslie Westbrook, Carpinteria Indivisible
Jeremy Goldberg, Executive Director, Central Coast Labor Council
John Grant President UFCW 770
James A. Forsythe, Chair, Westside Community Council
Joey Juhasz-Lukomski, BikeVentura
Suguet Lopez, Executive Director, Lideres Campesinas, Inc.
Michael Teasdale, Chair, Social Justice Fund for Ventura County
Betty Stapleford, Thousand Oaks Branch President, American Association of University Women
Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford, Co-Chair, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice Ventura County
Jerome E. Kahler, The Abundant Table
Robert Lane Clard, Board President, Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), Santa Barbara
Diane Martinez, Director, Immigrant Hope Santa Barbara
Ana Rosa Centino, Board President, Casa de la Raza
Jarrod Shwartz, Director, Just Communities
Julissa Peña, Director, Immigrant Legal Defense Center of Santa Barbara County
Progressive Coalition
Santa Barbara Young Democrats
Standing Up for Racial Justice, Santa Barbara
Democratic Socialist of America, Santa Barbara
El Centro Santa Barbara
Jackie Micaela Pearce, Executive Director, Westside Community Development Corporation
Oscar Cobian, Vice President of Student Development & Title IX Coordinator, Oxnard College/Dream Resource Center
Adam Vega, Ventura County Community Organizer, Californians for Pesticide Reform
Showing Up for Racial Justice – Santa Maria
Santa Maria-Lompoc NAACP
Russell Trenholme, Executive Director, IMPORTA Santa Barbara
Allies for Immigration Justice SLO County
House of Pride and Equality (HOPE)
Juliana Neel and Eric Ramirez Zepeda, Executive Board Members, Santa Maria Valley Young Democrats
Women’s March Santa Maria Valley
John Zaragoza, Ventura County Supervisor
Joan Hartmann, Santa Barbara County Supervisor
Bernardo M. Perez, Chair, Ventura County Community College District
Carmen Ramirez, Mayor Pro Tem, Oxnard City Council
Vianey López, Oxnard City Council
Gabriela Basua, Oxnard City Council
Oscar Madrigal, Oxnard City Council
Sofía Rubalcava, Deputy Mayor, Ventura City Council
Lorrie Brown, Ventura City Council
David Pollock, Moorpark City Council
James Kyriaco, Goleta City Council
Lynn Edmunds, Fillmore City Council
Manuel Minjarez, Fillmore City Council
Laura Espinosa, Ret. Santa Paula Councilmember
Gloria Soto, Santa Maria City Council
Liliana Cardenas, Guadalupe City Council
Karen Sher, President, Oxnard Union High School District School Board
Beatriz R. Herrera, Oxnard Union High School Board
Matthew Paul Almaraz, Ventura Unified School Board
Christina Urias, Santa Paula Unified School Board
Diana Perez, Santa Maria Joint Union High School District Board

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