August 17, 2020
Elizabeth, NJ – August 17, 2020: Urging New Jersey to take action to create a COVID relief fund for immigrant families and workers excluded from federal aid, fifty-five labor, community and faith-based organizations sent a letter today to Gov. Murphy and legislative leadership. In New Jersey, as many as 604,615 people, including 262,527 U.S. citizens who live with an immediate undocumented family member, have been left behind by aid under the CARES Act. Undocumented immigrants are also ineligible for unemployment insurance, pandemic unemployment insurance, SNAP and TANF.
The organizations called on the Governor and the state legislature to create a COVID relief program that provides income replacement to workers and their families who have been excluded from federal and other aid, to include $600 weekly payments for excluded workers who have lost their jobs and stimulus-style payments to undocumented immigrants who pay taxes but were not permitted to obtain federal stimulus payments under the CARES Act. Pending legislation S2480/A4171 would provide one time payments to some undocumented tax filers in New Jersey. This legislation currently has bipartisan support in the state legislature and 17 co-sponsors in the Senate and nearly as many in the Assembly. Recently, the Star Ledger editorial board endorsed the legislation, calling it a “reasonable first step” to meet the vast need.
“I worked in a food processing plant through the quarantine until I started to get COVID-19 symptoms. Then I lost my job. I haven’t received a penny in aid. I’m a single mom of three kids who were born in the United States. I pay taxes every year. Every day I worry about how I will buy medicine, keep my kids fed and stay safe. I urge New Jersey to stand up for the half-million undocumented immigrants and our US citizen kids,” said Maria Perez, member of Make the Road New Jersey.
“We are one state with one future. The welfare of any New Jersey family affects the welfare of every New Jersey family. We support taking measures to ensure that every New Jersey child lives in a home with adequate resources so that they can learn, grow and thrive. Our students’ access and opportunities should not be limited by their parents‘ immigration status,” said Marie Blistan, President of the New Jersey Education Association.
“Creating a COVID relief program that provides income replacement to workers and their families who have been excluded from federal and other aid will help save lives and contribute to the public health of all New Jersey residents”, said Latino Action Network President Christian Estevez. “Immigrants want to help flatten the curve by staying home when possible, but are forced to work in dangerous conditions to make ends meet. It is past due for us to provide financial relief to the most vulnerable members of our community.”
“In caring for our communities, we come face to face with those forced to work in dangerous conditions or risk poverty; and the many more whose work was devastated and families sickened by COVID-19, with no relief even if they pay taxes, or have families with mostly U.S. citizens, who are all punished along with them. We see the hunger, the uncertainty, the threat of becoming homeless, the fight to not lose faith in the social systems and sheer human integrity we should be able to count on. The CARES Act left out millions, putting divisions between us while the disease knows no boundaries. The HEROES Act is stalled in the Senate, but growing desperation takes no pause. New Jersey’s political leadership has a chance to address this crisis, and a moral obligation to pass and sign S2480/A4171 into law. We believe they have the political will, good sense and empathy to do so too, and in this case hope that is something we can count on,” said Gloria E. Blanco, Wind of the Spirit.