California is now the first state to provide financial help to undocumented seniors, with a pending approval from Governor Gavin Newsom.
AB 1536, introduced by Assemblyman Juan Carrillo, D-Palmdale, that had passed the Senate on a 32-2 vote last week. This bill was later sent to Newsom after an approval vote from the Assembly with a 53-4 vote. No position has been confirmed by the governor.
If AB 1536 is pushed into a law, state constituents who are undocumented and are disabled and/or over the age of 65, can be eligible to receive $1,100 to $1,900 per month through the state-funded Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI). This potential law would dismiss the requirement of having folks apply to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a huge barrier for those that do not an immigrant status that would be approved by the agency.
Roughly 17,000 undocumented seniors reside in California, according to The Center For Migration Studies.
“This bill is about ensuring that our state remains a place for every individual regardless of their background or immigration status so they can access the support and assistance to live a dignified life,” Carrillo said. “It is a testament to our shared commitment to compassion and inclusivity.”
A big argument as to why this bill was proposed was because of undocumented individuals not being able to benefit from social programs, despite paying state and local taxes. “Undocumented immigrants paid an estimated $3.7 billion in state and local taxes in 2019,” according to USC's California Immigrant Data Portal.
“These are the very benefits that they have often paid into over the course of their work in our state,” said Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, who presented the bill in the Senate last Wednesday.
AB 1536 will bring a cost to the state of $180 million a year, according to the California Department of Social Services.