NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) Undocumented workers in New York State are now eligible for pandemic relief.
A record $ 2.1 billion in aid has been earmarked for State budget was signed earlier this week.
When Annalilia Leon lost her housekeeper during the pandemic, she learned how to make masks with help from the Workers’ Justice Project.
Leon spoke to CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas in Spanish with Juan Carlos Romero providing the translation.
“She can survive the pandemic through donations and financial help from friends,” says Romero.
After all, the profits from selling masks could only go so far.
Leon is ineligible for unemployment, stimulus or other pandemic aid because she is undocumented.
“She felt that she was excluded but in some way became invisible,” said Romero.
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Now, Leon is among the estimated 300,000 people across New York who qualify for the Exclusion Workers’ Fund after $ 2.1 billion in aid for undocumented workers have passed this week in the state budget.
Personal payments of up to $ 15,600 will be awarded to people who were previously ineligible for benefits, who can show proof of living in New York and loss of income due to the pandemic.
The New York Immigration Coalition is among the many groups lobbying for controversial funding.
“There are no New Yorkers immigrants, there aren’t many local economies, so this will really revive the local economies,” said Murad Awawdeh, co-executive director of the Immigration Coalition.
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the budget approving the fund, but also raised concerns about possible fraud.
Attorney General Letitia James said her office would provide some oversight.
Despite concerns about health and safety throughout the past year, Leon has not stopped working.
“This is a social justice goal and she’s very happy that it was approved,” says Romero.
Now, she’s hoping for a push into the economic recovery, like everyone else.
Opponents raise concerns about the price of the bill and the message it sends to other undocumented workers.
Details on how to register the fund are still being set up.