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Assembly Bill 2847, introduced by California lawmaker Eduardo Garcia, has the potential to change the lives of millions of undocumented workers in the state. The bill would ensure that undocumented workers would receive unemployment benefits if they lost their jobs for any reason. It’s estimated that undocumented workers contribute $3.7 billion in annual state and local tax revenues. These workers are a key demographic for the state, and many became our essential workers throughout the pandemic. It’s time that we give these workers more stability financially, ensuring them the protection they rightfully deserve. Assembly Bills like 2847 are beacons of hope, but without proper structure and support from lawmakers we might never see them go into action. We must make sure these bills and others like them are being enacted and pushed with all the support they need. 

The bill is estimated to cost $597 million dollars, plus administrative costs. AB 2847 will ensure that undocumented workers receive $300 weekly payments for up to 20 weeks if needed. Considering how much this workforce contributes to the economy alone, this estimate shouldn’t be a problem. The price tag of this AB 2847 might scare some people, but it’s a small one to pay in order to help this community. Many would argue that their tax dollars shouldnt be used to fund these types of projects. But funding social welfare programs like this one will ensure that undocumented workers are well taken care of. Allowing them to access benefits that millions of people in the state already have access to. Americans need to stop viewing immigrants who come into this country as lazy people. These workers are the reason why you have food on your tablet. These hard working people deserve to have the same safety net as any other worker in this country.  

In the state of California, out of the 2 million undocumented individuals currently residing here, 1.1 million actively participate in the workforce. Throughout the pandemic, these workers didn’t have the same luxury of simply being able to work from home. Stimulus checks were not sent to their homes, and if they missed work due to becoming ill they ran the risk of being fired. At the heart of the pandemic nobody stopped to applaud them when entering a field to labor all day under the sun. Immigrants made up nearly 60% of coronavirus-related deaths in California’s industries with the highest rate of pandemic-related deaths. A community which has often been described at the backbone of the California economy, has gone ignored and mistreated for far too long. AB 2847 is one many first steps in the right direction towards helping this community who is still currently suffering.  

Nonetheless, AB 2847 is only a small fraction of the work that needs to be done to better support these communities. We need to start deconstructing the negative stereotype that undocumented workers don’t contribute to the workforce. Stereotypes like the ones pushed by former President Trump, are a key component as to why many Americans view undocumented workers in such a bad light. Legislation that aims to help these communities is always going to hit roadblocks because of these preconceived notions. 

California lawmakers need to ensure that when drafting legislation that aims to help undocumented workers they have the support they need from their constituents to pass these bills. Undocumented workers continue to work under harsh conditions, many of them doing it with a heart full of pride. Neglecting them from receiving these benefits is a great disservice, that will ultimately result in more suffering.