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Queens Officials Call on Gov. Hochul to Replenish Excluded Workers Fund With $3 Billion

Organizers with Make The Road New York at a rally earlier this year calling for funds for excluded workers (Make The Road New York via Instagram)

Dec. 9, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Queens officials are calling on Governor Kathy Hochul to replenish and reopen the Excluded Workers Fund after the state closed applications in October upon running out of money.

Officials such as State Sen. Jessica Ramos and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards are urging Hochul to inject $3 billion into the fund. The fund is for undocumented New Yorkers who lost their jobs during the pandemic.

The state closed applications for the Excluded Workers Fund in October after most of the $2.1 billion earmarked for it was distributed. The money went to undocumented, out-of-work New Yorkers who didn’t qualify for federal aid—such as unemployment insurance and stimulus checks—due to their immigration status.

The state distributed funding to more than 130,000 people across the state — with nearly all receiving the maximum payment of $15,600. However, an estimated 45,000 to 50,000 applicants were denied payments when the money ran out, according to immigrant advocacy group Make the Road NY.

Make the Road estimates that hundreds of thousands of eligible workers did not apply in time.

Richards penned a letter to Hochul Wednesday to request she immediately invest another $3 billion in the executive budget to the fund and reopen it. He said that there are “tens of thousands” of working-class immigrants in Queens who were unable to access the fund.

“There is no doubt that our excluded workers still face severe economic hardship,” Richards wrote in the letter. “…It is clear that a pressing need for additional financial assistance still exists here in Queens.”

Meanwhile, Ramos will be marching with local immigrant advocacy groups and Bronx Assembly Member Karines Reyes to Hochul’s midtown Manhattan office Friday calling on her to fund the program.

The marchers, according to organizers, will invoke imagery from the “posada,” a common Latin American holiday tradition that recreates the scene of Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging before Jesus’ birth. They will ask Hochul to not leave them out in the cold, as Mary and Joseph were during their search.

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