Demand for $1B in stimulus for unauthorized immigrants in NJ
The rally against extending Gov. Phil Murphy's pandemic powers got most of the headlines on Thursday, but there was another rally in Trenton that also drew the attention of state lawmakers.
A coalition of immigrant rights groups, clergy and labor groups were gathered behind the State House near the War Memorial demanding pandemic relief for the undocumented.
Gov. Murphy has announced he will set aside $40 million in the state budget to provide relief for those who were not eligible for unemployment benefits or claim stimulus money due to their immigration status.
Critics say funding for the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund falls about a billion dollars short. That $40 million, they say, would provide only minimal relief to nearly 30,000 undocumented residents among a population of nearly 460,000 who have received no stimulus money.
Thursday's rally was aimed at pressuring lawmakers to add $989 million dollars to the fund. The money would be used to provide direct stimulus payments of $2,000 and equivalent unemployment benefits.
When he announced the first round of relief for undocumented residents, Murphy signaled he was open to discussing more. A spokeswoman for the governor's office told NJ.com they were still unclear if federal stimulus aid from the American Rescue Plan could be used to provide relief to those unable to prove legal status, but would work with the legislature to "allocate funds."
A handful of other states have allocated stimulus money for their undocumented populations. New York State lawmakers have approved a $2.1 billion plan that provides direct payments up to $15,600 to undocumented workers and their families.
David Dyssegaard Kallick, deputy director of the Fiscal Policy Institute a nonprofit policy research group, told CBS news "This is the first time any kind of benefits for undocumented immigrants approach the level of what other kinds of workers get."