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Democrats in the state legislature approved the “excluded workers fund” as part of the state’s $212 billion budget. Approximately 92,000 illegal immigrants are eligible for a one-time payment of $15,600 through the program. Hundreds of thousands of others will get $3,200, the Fiscal Policy Institute reports.
Five Democrats in the state voted against the budget. Progressive lawmakers have since accused moderate Democrats of being racist for expressing concern with the taxpayer-funded provision.
Brooklyn state senator Jabari Brisport, a self-described socialist who has compared capitalism to slavery, said that he would no longer work with Democratic legislators who “enable racists” by opposing the provision.
New York Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs called the accusations of racism “wrong, plain and simple.”
“To assume that one’s political disagreement with spending any amount of money—no less $2.1 billion—on a program to give undocumented, non-taxpaying, off-the-book workers a humanitarian grant is motivated by racism and not economics is unjustified, uncalled for, unfair, and unbecoming of any public official elected in a democratic system that survives on the decency of civil public discourse,” Jacobs said.
Liberal activists protested outside of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office in the days before the passing of the budget. During a press conference, Cuomo praised the fund for its “compassion.”
In order to receive the $15,600 payment, illegal immigrants must prove that they live in the state, are not eligible for federal unemployment due to their legal status, and that they lost income during the pandemic.
New York Rep. Lee Zeldin (R.) criticized the fund for prioritizing “ex cons” and “illegal immigrants” over hardworking New Yorkers.