OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author’s opinion
Democrats in New York are working on creating a fund that would give some illegal aliens and ex-convicts more than $20,000 apiece in direct payments related to the coronavirus pandemic.
In an explosive report from Politico, New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office is reportedly in talks with state lawmakers to create something called the Excluded Workers Fund, which would offer direct payments to “undocumented immigrants and formerly incarcerated individuals” who missed out on work opportunities amid the pandemic.
“Right now discussions are around eligibility and access,” Democratic state Sen. Jessica Ramos told the outlet.
Just to be even clearer, Politico directly reports: “New York’s proposal would provide some recipients with more than $27,000.”
Under the state Senate’s plan, illegal immigrants and people who have been released from prison since October 2019 would be eligible for the big payouts, as Democratic lawmakers believe these individuals were not able to establish a requisite work history that would make them eligible for unemployment benefits.
Some illegal immigrants and ex-convicts could see an immediate payment of $20,700, with an additional $6,600 coming later.
The proposals supported by legislative Democrats would be open to those who have suffered losses in income over the past year but have not been eligible for the various federal programs. The state Senate’s budget proposal would cover people such as undocumented immigrants as well as those who’ve been released from incarceration since October 2019 and thus did not develop the work history needed to be eligible for unemployment by the time the pandemic struck.
Recipients would retroactively receive $600 for each week they were unemployed from March 27 through July 31, 2020. They’d receive $300 for each week from Aug. 1, 2020 through Sept. 6, 2021.
Anybody who hasn’t worked for the duration of the pandemic would thus be eligible for an immediate payment of $20,700 and could eventually receive an additional $6,600.
Those figures match the enhanced unemployment benefits that most workers have been eligible for over the past year. Advocates have been pushing for a larger fund costing $3.5 billion, so that recipients can also receive funds matching state-level benefits.
Vanessa Agudelo of the New York Immigration Coalition praised the proposition.
“This level of investment is absolutely historic for our communities,” Agudelo told Politico. “It’s the biggest investment any state has made to provide this level of relief to those workers who have been excluded from those unemployment benefits as well as what’s been passed in the stimulus package.”
“These are the folks who have been starving and have been on food lines on a daily basis, sometimes for hours, just to guarantee some food on the table for themselves and their families for the same night,” she added.
Agudelo went on to describe the wealth disparity in the state as “criminal.”
“It’s the bare minimum that we could be asking for for our people, and we believe with the amount of wealth in this state and how quickly it has accumulated even in the past year during the pandemic within the ultra-wealthy class, we believe it is criminal while we think about the disparity that exists in our communities and the starvation [and] dire financial hardship,” she said.