Bishops, State Senators Join CA IAF to Press Governor to Do More for Essential Workers


On Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at 6 PM, Bishop Jaime Soto of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento along with 1,000 other faith and community leaders from the California Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) will convene on Zoom with state legislators to call on Governor Newsom to do much more for essential workers during the pandemic. 

“A huge number of our essential workers -- immigrants -- have been left out of federal and state relief. Without them, we literally could not feed ourselves or care for our families during this crisis,” said Maria Elena Manzo, a leader with Sacred Heart Catholic Church and COPA. 

In California, 1 out of 10 workers are undocumented immigrants, and their labor is overwhelmingly in work deemed essential during the Covid-19 pandemic -- agriculture, food production, food distribution, food service, child care and elder care among other industries. The federal government has excluded undocumented immigrants from relief, and Governor Newsom’s initiatives to date will provide small cash payments to only 150,000 of the 2.2 million essential immigrant workers -- less than 7 percent. 

“It is morally wrong, and it is careless from a public health and economic perspective to leave essential workers without cash payments and without adequate protection during a pandemic. The people who feed us shouldn’t have to rely on charity to feed and protect themselves,” said Janet Hirsch, a leader with Temple Isaiah and One LA - IAF.  

One of the policy asks for this meeting will be to expand the California Earned Income Tax Credit (Cal EITC) to all workers who pay taxes, including a large number of undocumented immigrants. The CDC cites an analysis of the economic impact of a federal EITC in California, which found that payments contributed to more than $5 billion in business sales in the state and helped add nearly 30,000 jobs. 

“We don’t want charity for these workers, we want justice,” said Rev. Robin Mathews-Johnson, a leader with Watsonville First United Methodist Church and COPA. “Our neighbors and friends are putting their lives on the line for us right now. They pay 3.2 billion dollars in state and local taxes. Investing back into these families right now is not just the right thing to do, it is good for our economy. It is good for all Californians.”

The May 5 California IAF convening represents 8 broad-based organizations from across the state, covering Southern California, the Inland Empire, Central Coast, Bay Area and parts of the Central Valley and Far North. Local organizations work with faith communities, unions, schools and other institutions to teach people the habits and practices of public life. All organizations are nonpartisan, multi-issue and multilingual.  

Several state legislators including Senator Maria Elena Durazo (Los Angeles), Assembly-member David Chiu (San Francisco), and Assembly-member Eloise Gomez-Reyes (San Bernardino) will respond to the IAF leaders’ agenda. 


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