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Border & Immigration

California To Start Sending Relief To Undocumented Immigrants

A man passes a store that closed as part of efforts to combat the spread of the new coronavirus Thursday, April 9, 2020, in San Diego.
Gregory Bull / AP Photo
A man passes a store that closed as part of efforts to combat the spread of the new coronavirus Thursday, April 9, 2020, in San Diego.

UPDATE: 10 a.m., May 19, 2020:

Jewish Family Service has issued an important update to the application process. In a statement released on Monday evening, the organization wrote:

The State of California is requiring that all calls to the Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI) hotlines must be answered live. As such, there will no longer be a voicemail option. Phone lines are open every day, 7 days per week, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. – increased by one hour. If you do not get through when you call, please keep calling back until you get through. There may be long delays. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we try and assist callers as thoroughly and quickly as possible.


The statement goes on to say that if an individual called and left a voicemail on Monday, and has not yet been called back by a representative, they should call the hotline again.

Original story:

Thousands of undocumented immigrants will receive up to one-thousand dollars from the state government starting Monday. The payments are drawn from a $75 million cash assistance program launched by Gov. Newsom last month.

It’s meant to help some of the 2 million undocumented people in California, who were left out of the government’s previous stimulus programs.

Jewish Family Service will be the only service provider processing cash assistance requests in both San Diego and Imperial Counties. They say their phones have been ringing all day since intake began Monday morning. The organization says it had gotten over 10,000 calls in the first few hours.


“Clearly the word has gotten out,” said Michael Hopkins, Chief Executive Officer of Jewish Family Service. “If you haven’t already you should call immediately, because while the program is scheduled to run through the end of June, I would be surprised if it ran through the end of this week. The demand has been that great.”

JFS says it has been given enough money to reach 10,000 people in the region.

RELATED: California Budget Cuts Target Health Care For Immigrants

People requesting aid can call the hotline to leave a voicemail, and a caseworker will call them back within 2-3 days. Households can request to have the prepaid cards either sent to their homes or arrange to pick them up at locations throughout the two counties.

“Here in San Diego, about 25% of San Diegans are unemployed,” Hopkins said. “And we know that this has had an outsized impact on those lower on the economic ladder. So there’s no doubt that the population that these dollars are trying to go to has been impacted in a very significant way here.”

Hopkins also explained that the program isn’t means-tested, meaning anyone who is undocumented and has been adversely impacted by COVID-19, regardless of their savings, can qualify. And that means it isn’t subject to the Trump administration's “Public Charge” rule.

The rule has led to a downturn in the amount of immigrants using social services, fearful that it would adversely impact their immigration status.