Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday a $40 million fund for undocumented immigrants and other workers who were excluded from economic aid and stimulus checks since the pandemic began. The fund is part of a larger $275 million economic relief package.
The announcement takes place after an almost month-long hunger strike held by undocumented immigrants who were asking for financial relief after being left out from most forms of direct economic aid during the pandemic.
New Jersey residents who were excluded from relief like unemployment and stimulus benefits will be eligible for the fund regardless of immigration status or whether they file taxes, according to nj.com
Those residents who can show they were excluded from relief and affected by the coronavirus pandemic can claim up a one-time payment of $1,000, with a household maximum of $2,000. The income threshold will be roughly $55,000.
The $40 million fund will be made up of Coronavirus Relief Fund, the last remaining dollars from the the federal CARES Act. Officials said that depending on the guidance for using the $6 billion in American Rescue Plan money, it is possible a second round of money.
The other $235 million in the package are state funds allocated for small businesses and non-profits, after seeing a high demand for financial assistance to the Economic Development Agency’s programs from New Jersey business owners. Childcare facilities and bars and restaurants also have a section in the relief package.
A significant first step
Workers delegates considered the announcement as a significant first step, however they are afraid it will not be enough to help the community.
The group of 35 essential workers who are on a hunger strike released a statement that they will end the strike because of Friday’s action, but said the$40 million fund “will only reach a fraction of the population of excluded workers and their families, and is not nearly enough to meet the vast and desperate need.”
Murphy´s office expects the money to help from 20,000 to 30,000 residents. It is not clear when the funds will start being distributed or when they will reach residents in need of cash assistance.