The state of California and UCLA are both planning to provide undocumented individuals with access to funding after they were left out of the coronavirus stimulus package.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which was signed into law on March 27, is providing $1,200 a month to each American adult whose individual income is $75,000 or less. The CARES Act also provided colleges with emergency aid for their students.
The University of California received $260 million in funding from the stimulus package, with UCLA specifically receiving about $36 million.
However, undocumented immigrants, including students in the UCLA community, were excluded from payments in the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released guidelines in late April specifying that the funding given to colleges cannot be used to support undocumented or international students.
Some undocumented students who have a work visa through DACA are able to receive unemployment benefits, but for many other undocumented students it is not possible, said Valeria Garcia, program director for the Undocumented Student Program at UCLA, in an emailed statement.
“As the Pandemic and Stay-at-Home order continues, undocumented students like everyone else will need to receive additional support,” Garcia said in the statement.
In order to support undocumented California residents who were left out of the stimulus package, California Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to provide them with cash payments.
Newsom’s package, the Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants, includes $20 million for Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles area contains 31% of California’s undocumented population, which is the highest percentage of any area within the state, according to Newsom’s Disaster Relief for Immigrants Project fact sheet.
Newsom plans to give 150,000 adult undocumented immigrants a one-time stimulus payment of $500. The payments will be funded by a combination of taxpayer money and charitable contributions, according to CNBC.
“We are proud to be the first state in the nation to announce a project for direct disaster relief assistance to undocumented residents, and this assistance will certainly help these individuals and families during this pandemic,” said Scott Murray, a spokesperson for the California Department of Social Services, in an emailed statement.
UCLA also plans to provide $200 universal impact awards to undocumented and international students using the university’s private and institutional grants.
Garcia said in her email she believes this money could help undocumented students at UCLA, but pointed out that these funds may not be enough.
“These funds will be critical in supporting some of the basic needs for undocumented students and their families,” Garcia said. “(But) it’s important to note that these funds do not equal the amount that is given to individuals through the CARES Act.”
The Undocumented Student Program remains open virtually to support undocumented students with access to legal help, grant or scholarship programs, and professional and student staff who can help, Garcia added.
Rick Tuttle, a former instructor of public policy at UCLA, said he believes many undocumented students have lost their jobs because of the isolation and shutting down of many establishments.
Without a source of income, Tuttle said some undocumented students may be unable to pay for essential items, such as groceries.
“We are all living together in this country whether we are documented, undocumented, … and yet part of our community of fellow human beings are being left out,” Tuttle said. “In some cases, I imagine there’s a level of desperation setting in.”
Tuttle added that politicians should move beyond their partisan biases in order to support the entire community.
“I hope Congress and the president will get together and remedy this,” Tuttle said. “We need to set aside all the politics of the last few years and just help us all through this.”