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Will California Extend Unemployment Insurance to Undocumented Workers?

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People hold up a sign in front of the state Capitol that reads, "Include Immigrant Workers"
Hundreds of people converged at the California state Capitol in support of SB 227, a bill that would offer unemployment benefits to undocumented workers, on Thursday, April 13, 2023.  (Carlos Cabrera-Lomelí/KQED)

An estimated 1.1 million undocumented immigrants work in California, with large numbers laboring in low-wage jobs like agriculture, construction, and food service. But none of those workers are eligible for unemployment insurance, even though their wages contribute to the system.

That’s why workers and advocates have been pushing the state to step in. Senate Bill 227 would use state funds to extend unemployment benefits to undocumented workers: provide unemployed workers $300 per week for 20 weeks.

The state legislature passed a similar bill last year, but Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed it, citing concerns over cost. Will that it happen again?

Episode transcript

Guest: Farida Jhabvala Romero, KQED labor correspondent


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