Should California be distributing disaster relief money to illegal immigrants?


Fact Box

  • Pew Research Center reports that as of 2016, over 2 million undocumented immigrants were living in California. 
  • The California state budget allows for full coverage of illegal immigrant children ages 18 years or younger for the state’s healthcare program, Medi-Cal. 
  • Although unqualified to receive unemployment benefits in California due to the coronavirus pandemic, undocumented immigrants are still eligible to apply for disability insurance, workers’ compensation, and paid family leave. 
  • According to the Public Policy Institute of California, 66% of undocumented immigrants have lived in the United States for at least ten years or more.

Stephanie (No)

There is no logical or moral reason for California to distribute disaster relief money to illegal immigrants, as was ordered by Governor Gavin Newsom last month, granting $500 each to 150,000 adults in the state unlawfully.

With its massive population, there are much more deserving citizens in California who could benefit from increased disaster-related funding, from working citizens to homeless veterans. Failing to take care of these individuals first is highly unethical on behalf of the state.

Undocumented immigrants are, by definition, illegal and have thus committed a crime by being in the country. The state is essentially advocating for and rewarding criminal activity by giving them relief money. Governor Newsom stated, “We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportation but are still addressing the essential needs of tens of millions of Californians.”

Considering the economy, undocumented immigrants who typically accept payment “under the table” do not pay into the tax system and have not “earned” the right to receive any form of government aid. Also, said money might not necessarily stimulate the US economy if illegals send funds to families in their home countries.

It can be argued that California was already a financially broken state. Yet Newsom recently claimed that COVID-19 is to blame for the increasingly worse economic situation and that the federal government has a “moral and ethical responsibility” to financially assist states suffering from the crisis.

Newsom also insisted that California officials are “managing our budget effectively, efficiently.” Even the slightest bit of common sense would suggest that doing so in no way includes giving out deserving dollars to illegals.

Rida (Yes)

Distributing disaster relief money to illegal immigrants in California is not just a political issue but an economic and human rights issue. That is why Gov. Newsom is acting ethically by giving 150,000 undocumented workers $500 each. In fact, he has said he 'feels a deep sense of gratitude' for this population's efforts toward performing essential duties during the pandemic.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 25, 'Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing…'. Any refusal of aid to illegal immigrants constitutes considering them less human than others. Furthermore, children of illegal immigrants are only children. And no child deserves to go hungry over political antics, xenophobia, or the actions of their parents.

Economically speaking, illegal immigrants have contributed to the California economy and the American economy as a whole, and their net economic impact has always been positive. In 2014, illegal immigrants contributed over $3 billion in state and local taxes in California alone.

Lastly, since illegal immigrants are primarily lower-income households, it's highly likely that all or most of the extra money they get will be given back to the economy by spending on necessities rather than saving.

To sum up, illegal immigrants are regular economically contributing humans who deserve to satisfy their basic needs. California's step to grant them disaster relief is monumental and fair, especially considering they could not get any federal stimulus checks.

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