The California Senate on Tuesday voted to pay $300 weekly checks to unemployed illegal immigrants even as the state faces a roughly $31.5 billion deficit and mass illegal immigration.
Democratic state senators passed Senate Bill 227 by Sen. María Elena Durazo (D.) with a 30-7 vote, sending the measure to the Assembly for approval. The legislation would offer undocumented aliens up to 20 weeks of unemployment benefits if they meet minimal work requirements.
California’s unemployment insurance fund, which was defrauded of some $31 billion during the COVID-19 pandemic, would be in charge of dispensing the checks. California employers are on the hook for the fund’s $20 billion debt in the form of higher payroll taxes that threaten employee-heavy small businesses and restaurants already devastated by California Democrats’ strict COVID-19 lockdowns.
Under SB 227, unemployment fund officials would be barred from asking for claimants’ social security number eligibility or contacting past or present employers to verify their job status. Instead, applicants would self-attest that they meet the requirements for the weekly checks: having earned at least $1,300 or worked at least 93 hours over three months. Acceptable documentation would include tax returns, transaction logs on payment apps, and receipts that show a commuting pattern.
The State Senate passed the measure just months after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D.) said the undocumented migrant influx could "break" California. Earlier this month, when President Joe Biden lifted the federal Title 42 health order restricting immigration, Democratic San Diego mayor Todd Gloria complained that his city would be overwhelmed and lacks "the resources to address an influx of migrants," according to the New York Times.
The Golden State already offers free health coverage and driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. More than two million illegal immigrants live in California.
Tuesday's measure sailed easily through the State Senate. A formidable list of Democratic-aligned lobbying groups are pushing for its passage, including immigration, LGBT, and environmental organizations as well as powerful labor unions.
The law is expected to pass the Assembly, but Newsom has not said whether he plans to sign it. When he was inaugurated, Newsom labeled California a "sanctuary" state
welcoming illegal immigrants. He has called the state a "model of partnership for a safe and welcoming border." Last year, however, Newsom vetoed a similar bill that would have established an unemployment insurance pilot program for undocumented workers, saying "this bill needs further work to address the operational issues and fiscal concerns, including a dedicated funding source for benefits."