May 17, 2021
Sacramento, Calif.— Today, Governor Newsom released his May Revise of the state budget, which included vital investments to support communities left behind during the pandemic. CIPC applauds the Governor for listening to and addressing vital needs of immigrant communities, who have shouldered an undue burden during this pandemic with almost no safety net. The Governor’s proposal advances health equity by removing exclusions from Medi-Cal for undocumented seniors ages 60 and above. It also provides limited stimulus support to many individuals and families shut out of federal COVID relief, and an additional investment in vital legal services and outreach to immigrant communities.
As co-lead of the Health4All Campaign and a proud member of powerful coalitions including the CalEITC coalition, the Safety Net for All Coalition, and others, CIPC has advocated for more equitable policies for many years that center the needs of low-income immigrants, and the pandemic has heightened the urgency. Undocumented Californians working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic have been excluded from thousands of dollars in federal aid and safety net programs. Older adults and low-income immigrant communities of color have been hit hardest by the virus. The California Budget & Policy Center estimates that in the last year, the average undocumented, laid-off worker has been excluded from $3,200 in federal stimulus payments, $13,308 in unemployment insurance, $1,992 worth of CalFresh benefits for food assistance, and $5,000 in health care costs through Medi-Cal.
We are mindful of the gaps that remain despite the proposals in today’s May Revise. Given the state’s almost inconceivable $75 billion surplus over two years, we urge the Legislature and the Newsom administration to identify more that can be done in this year’s budget to address pre-pandemic inequities, including coverage for undocumented 26-59-year-olds who continue to go without basic health care. While we are glad to see the Governor’s budget includes immigrant ITIN tax filers among those eligible to receive certain $500 direct payments, our immigrant communities by and large continue to be excluded from unemployment, stimulus, and other relief programs. A much more significant investment is needed to truly address the unjust exclusion of these workers from unemployment insurance benefits and stimulus relief.
If California wants to roar back, then we cannot merely return to pre-pandemic conditions where systemic inequities limited access to resources and safety net programs; we must envision a state where everyone can thrive. CIPC will continue to work with our partners and our state’s leaders to create a California that uplifts the humanity and dignity of everyone who calls California home.
Cynthia Buiza, CIPC executive director reacted:
“CIPC applauds the governor and our champions in the state legislature for their commitment to health equity, economic justice, and immigrant justice, ensuring our state’s income-eligible, undocumented seniors are no longer excluded from Medi-Cal, extending stimulus funds to ITIN holders, and directing increased funds to provide legal assistance and outreach to immigrants. Today we celebrate how far we have come, but also recommit to our vision for what is possible. We are in the midst of a critical moment to undertake systems change and move towards a vision that uplifts equity, humanity, and our shared values. We urge our elected leaders to continue this momentum with more inclusive and supportive policies that lays the foundation for a thriving California for all. Those most impacted among us must not be forgotten as a post-pandemic vision is articulated for California. Humane social policy is also sound economic policy. “