California is providing COVID-19 assistance to its undocumented population

Samantha Bravo, Assistant Campus Editor

The state of California is offering its undocumented residents COVID-19 assistance after they were excluded from receiving relief from the federal coronavirus relief bill.

Undocumented adults who are ineligible for federal relief, such as stimulus payments and pandemic unemployment benefits, are eligible to apply for $500 in relief from the program — the Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants project.

The state will provide $75 million in direct assistance to 150,000 undocumented adults, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last month. Newsom also announced that philanthropic groups committed to raise an additional $50 million in aid for undocumented residents.

The California Department of Social Services selected 12 immigrant-serving nonprofit groups to process applications and administer the $75 million in aid. Each group will cover a different region.

According to the CDSS website, a maximum of two adults per household can qualify for a total of $1000 per household. A household is defined as one or more individuals who live and purchase and prepare meals together.

Applications will be accepted until June 30 or until the funding is exhausted, according to the program’s webpage.

An undocumented adult who qualifies may seek assistance by contacting the nonprofit organization assigned to their county of residence.

According to the website, eligible individuals must be over the age of 18 and ineligible for federal COVID-19 related assistance or pandemic unemployment benefits. They also must have experienced hardship due to the pandemic.

The disaster relief application is a one-time assistance application service and assistance is not guaranteed, according to CDSS.

Individuals interested in applying for this assistance should contact the nonprofit organization listed for their county. Los Angeles residents should contact the Central American Resource Center at (213) 315-2659, and it is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CARECEN will only be allowed to assist individuals with their application if they reside in Los Angeles County. For more information, visit:

If an applicant is found eligible and their application is approved, the nonprofit organization that helped them will provide additional information on how the applicant will receive their payment. The applicant will receive a card either through in-person pick-up or through the mail, according to CDSS.

“Applicants will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis … Given the economic hardship undocumented adults are experiencing due to COVID-19, this disaster relief assistance may run out within a very short period of time,” the CDSS website states.

According to the Public Institute of California data from 2017, the state is home to about 2.4 million undocumented immigrants, which means that the aid is likely to help only a portion of the state’s population.

Receiving the aid will not seem to have an impact on an undocumented person’s ability to change their immigration status.

The Department of Homeland Security can deny an undocumented person a change in immigration status if it deems the person to be likely to receive public benefits, such as public housing, for a certain period of time. However, California’s disaster aid is not listed as a public benefit, according to both the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and CDSS websites.

Still, USCIS has not issued specific guidance related to California’s disaster relief for immigrants, according to CDSS.

“If there are questions about immigration status and this assistance project, please consult an immigration attorney,” the CDSS website states.

Undocumented Californians who are excluded and ineligible for any of the state-funded assistance programs may apply for the California Immigrant Resilience Fund through the fund’s local partners. Successful applicants will receive direct cash assistance.

The fund is a public-private partnership with Newsom and Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, the network of philanthropic groups that Newsom thanked in his announcement last month for committing to raise \0 million.

The list of local partners distributing Resilience Fund disaster assistance can be found at

For more information including jobs, wages and benefits, visit