Safety Net for All


Unemployment benefits are a lifeline for California’s families, communities and industries and help millions of Californians get through the biggest challenges we face, from climate emergencies, to natural disasters and economic volatility. However, based on outdated and racist policies, undocumented workers, who comprise 1 in 17 workers, are currently excluded from critical unemployment coverage on the basis of their immigration status. Even short-term losses in jobs or income can severely affect families’ livelihoods: 20% of all Californians under the age of 18 live with someone who is undocumented or is undocumented themselves. Without the support of essential safety net programs like unemployment insurance, many immigrant families are forced to exhaust their life savings, accumulate greater debt, and compromise their health to simply afford basic necessities like rent and food.

This exclusion also hurts employers, who contribute 485 million dollars a year to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund on behalf of undocumented workers alone. Yet, undocumented workers do not see a cent of that money. Employers are therefore losing out on their investments into a safety net that is supposed to help stabilize their workforce, especially in seasonal industries like agriculture. California has been a leader in creating relief funds to ensure that undocumented residents are not excluded from safety net programs during major disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic—but we cannot stop there.

Global environmental challenges such as climate change and catastrophic wildfires also place undocumented workers at risk of facing a disaster without a safety net. We know that our state, our local businesses, and our schools bounce back faster when all Californians are better supported. Unemployment benefits are a key part of economic stability for employers and workers who face unexpected job loss. To create a strong and resilient economy, we need a safety net for all of us.

Take Action

CIPC, along with the Safety Net for All Coalition, is advocating to win unemployment benefits for undocumented workers, who are shut out of Unemployment Insurance solely due to their immigration status. We’re calling on the state to invest $356 million this year to provide undocumented workers with $300 a week for up to 20 weeks of unemployment. This program builds on the momentum created by programs in other states, such as New York, New Jersey, Washington, Iowa, and Colorado, and galvanized by immigrant workers across the country. Now it’s up to California to ensure that every worker and family in the state has access to a safety net and the tools we all need to be healthy and thrive. Join CIPC and the Safety Net for All Coalition to urge California to fund excluded workers now!


Share Your Story

Are you excluded from Unemployment Insurance and COVID relief because of your immigration status? Know anyone who is? Share your story here

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