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No Plan Yet On How Undocumented People Apply For NY COVID Relief

BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — New York’s fiscal year 2022 budget includes a chunk of money for undocumented individuals hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who are eligible can receive up to $15,600, the same amount an average American citizen may have received from federal relief packages.

A spokesperson for the state said details on how to apply for the Excluded Workers Fund will be released at a later date. The relief fund sets aside $2.1 billion for those who lost work during the pandemic, but, due to immigration status, were ineligible for unemployment benefits or federal stimulus checks.

"Such workers must be below a particular income threshold and provide sufficient documentation to establish work-related eligibility and residency in the state," according to the state's website.

Mary Jo Dudley, director of the Cornell* Farmworker Program, works with thousands of farm workers in New York. That includes people who are undocumented.

"Most of the farm workers don’t have computers, some don’t have internet access, so they rely on their cell phones to communicate, and we will have to see how that process can be done on a cell phone," Dudley explained regarding accessibility to the funds.

The Cornell Farmworkers Program talked to 100 workers who tested positive for COVID-19.  Many lost work. Farmworkers do not have paid sick leave. Dudley said some are experiencing long-haul COVID symptoms—headaches, dizziness, body aches, shortness of breath—making it difficult for them to do physically demanding farm work.

*Full disclosure: Cornell University is a WSKG Underwriter.