The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

California Undocumented Workers Bear the Brunt of the Crisis

Feb 15, 2021

A one-time check of $500 back in April 2020. That is the entire benefit that the state of California has paid workers who are undocumented immigrants. In the face of the pandemic, mass unemployment and endless eviction threats, this is all they received. Even worse, the state government limited the number who got it to 150,000—a tiny fraction of the two million undocumented workers in California.

Undocumented workers have been left to face the brunt of the pandemic and the economic disaster completely alone, without a safety net. While undocumented workers in California pay tens of billions in federal, state and local taxes, they can’t even get food stamps, general relief, unemployment insurance or disability.

Undocumented workers constitute 1 in 10 workers in the entire state. They make up a big part of the essential workforce in agriculture, meat packing, warehouses, restaurants, grocery retail, as well as health care. For that essential work, the bosses take advantage of the undocumented workers’ status by forcing them to work, not only longer and harder, but under unsafe and unhealthy conditions, leaving those sectors wide open for COVID 19.

It is capitalist exploitation that spreads the virus and makes the pandemic much worse for all workers, with or without papers.