In December, the fund got a $10 million boost from the federal American Rescue Plan, putting the total at $50 million and getting another round of applause from advocates.
However, many of those cheers have now turned to boos after $34 million of the fund was “re-appropriated” for other state expenses, including payroll. Read More: Immigrant Rights Advocates Blast NJ For ‘Raiding’ COVID Fund
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Despite only reaching a small percentage of those in need of relief, the program is set to expire on Jan. 31. Learn more and apply online here.
Some advocates have been blasting the program since it launched, alleging that it’s needlessly overcomplicated and plagued with red tape and delays. But according to a new report from New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP), it gets worse: the fund was likely destined to fail from the get-go.
Even before the fund was cut, the $50 million was only enough to cover 25,000 people or 12,500 households — just a fraction of those excluded from federal pandemic relief. That includes the state’s estimated 500,000 undocumented residents, 300,000 of whom are in the labor force, the NJPP said.
Undocumented immigrants in New Jersey paid an estimated $1.1 billion in federal taxes and $604.3 million in state and local taxes in 2018. Read More: Deporting NJ’s Undocumented Immigrants Would Cost State Millions In Taxes
“Even at its full amount, the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund would have fallen short of meeting the needs of communities and families,” said Jon Shure, interim president and founder of the NJPP.
“The goal needs to be helping all families get the support they need to make it through this unprecedented crisis,” Shure emphasized.
The report, “Recovery for All: Excluded New Jerseyans Fund Falls Short,” also found that the maximum benefit of the ENJF — $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 max per household — pales in comparison to aid provided to others facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
An unemployed New Jersey resident who was eligible for unemployment insurance and was unemployed for the average (mean) duration of unemployment (currently 29 weeks) was eligible for a minimum of $12,380 and an average of $21,738 in unemployment insurance, the NJPP said.