New York lawmakers created a fund that would distribute $2.1 billion to illegal immigrants and other unemployed workers who were not eligible for federal aid.
The fund, dubbed the Excluded Worker Fund, will offer one time payments up to $15,600 to illegal immigrants who lost their jobs during the pandemic.
Individuals need to prove they are New York residents who were not eligible for unemployment benefits and stimulus checks because of their immigration status. They would also need to show that they lost income.
Illegal immigrants who cannot prove these things will still be eligible for $3,200 from the state.
“This nation’s economy has long been built on the backs of our undocumented workforce, and their essential labor that has helped keep our nation running throughout this pandemic,” said New York State Senator Jessica Ramos.
A group of illegal immigrants went on a hunger strike to force the hand of the state, lasting 23 days.
“There have been 23 days without food. Twenty-three days when I was hungry and in pain,” said Ana Ramirez, an illegal immigrant, to AMNY. “But it hasn’t just been 23 days. It’s actually been decades of pain, the pain of indifference and negligence. Today, our work today has been recognized. Our dignity has been recognized, and our dignity has been lifted by passing this fund.”
“It is more than $2.1 billion dollars,” continued Ramirez. “It is actually a recognition of undocumented workers. This is the future. This is the future that we’re leaving behind for our kids, and a reminder for those who doubted us. This is proof that we did it.”