Apr 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

New York to offer COVID relief payments up to $15,600 for undocumented workers

Photo with eagle-eye view of New York Capitol building's inner chamber

Photo: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New York will offer one-time payments of up to $15,600 to undocumented immigrants who lost work due to COVID-19, the state legislature announced this week.

Why it matters: Part of the state's 2021-2022 budget, the $2.1 billion fund is the biggest of its kind in the U.S., signaling the state's progressive-driven agenda, the New York Times reports.

How it works: Undocumented workers will be able to receive the equivalent of $300 per week for the last year, up to $15,600. They must verify that they were New York residents, ineligible for federal unemployment benefits and lost income because of the pandemic.

  • Those who can prove at least their residency and identity with some work documentation are eligible for a smaller sum up to $3,200.

For comparison: California set up a similar fund last year but capped it at $75 million, offering immigrants a $500 one-time payment on a first-come, first-served basis.

The big picture: The fund was an issue of contentious debate among lawmakers.

  • Republicans accused Democrats of enacting a "radical agenda" rather than helping other struggling New Yorkers, per Spectrum News.
  • Some Democrats from swing districts privately said the program could be weaponized against them in future elections, according to the Times.
  • A group of progressive lawmakers camped out overnight in the Capitol after budget discussion broke down.
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