Updated: Jun 26
May 7, 2020
Governor Gavin Newsom
California State Capitol
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: Support for SEED Initiative to Assist Undocumented Immigrants as Part of COVID-19 Economic Recovery Efforts
Dear Governor Newsom:
On behalf of the undersigned community and labor organizations, we seek your support for California’s nearly three million undocumented immigrants who are especially vulnerable during this COVID-19 crisis. Given California’s role as a forward-looking global economic leader, we urge you to ensure that undocumented immigrants are included in the state’s economic recovery efforts over the coming months and years by preserving and strengthening the $10 million dollar SEED Initiative in your current budget proposal.
Immigrants compose 35 percent of California’s civilian noninstitutional workforce, including undocumented workers and those granted work authorization through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs. One in ten workers in California is undocumented. Approximately 2.5 million undocumented Latinx, 440,000 undocumented Asian, and 28,000 undocumented Black immigrants call California home. Our state’s workforce is diverse which contributes to our strength and competitiveness globally.
In addition to the critical importance of providing undocumented immigrants with equitable access to immediate emergency relief measures to protect their health and well-being, it is imperative that 1 undocumented immigrants also are included in programs and strategies to restore and bolster California’s economy -- and to begin now to lay the foundation for economic recovery. The $2 trillion federal stimulus package denies 11 million undocumented immigrants and their 5 million children who are U.S. citizens access to federal funds, although the vast majority of undocumented immigrants pay multiple forms of taxes.
The SEED Initiative, which already is included in your proposed budget released in January, would be an important program and strategy for helping to revitalize California’s economy, while also ensuring that vulnerable immigrants who face significant barriers to employment -- especially those who are undocumented and Limited English Proficient (LEP) -- would have access to the necessary training, micro-grants, and technical assistance to support them in starting (or re-starting) small businesses aimed at addressing a social problem or meeting a community need.
Numerous studies have documented the significant economic contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs. For example, in 2007, businesses owned by immigrants employed almost 4 million workers (one in every ten workers employed in privately held U.S. companies), with payroll of nearly $127 billion. In 2013, nearly 30% of “Main Street” business owners were immigrant 2 entrepreneurs in retail, accomodation and food services, or neighborhood services, helping to spur economic development in their neighborhoods. Thus, the SEED Initiative would support 3 undocumented and other vulnerable immigrants to make a livelihood while also boosting California’s economic recovery efforts coming out of the COVID-19 crisis.
Especially at this time with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status programs also hanging in the balance -- and over 250,000 Californians who are DACA or TPS recipients -- it is critically important that California continue to be at the forefront of promoting innovative immigrant integration and economic development strategies that are inclusive, equitable, and impactful.
Promoting economic opportunity and recovery that is inclusive of undocumented immigrants is about securing California’s future. Nearly 4.7 million Californians live with an undocumented family member, 42% of whom are children under 18 years old. We must take steps now to ensure that undocumented immigrants and those at risk of losing work authorization are included in the state’s economic recovery strategies and efforts.
We thank you for your leadership and, for the reasons noted above, we urge you to preserve and strengthen the $10 million SEED Initiative currently in your proposed budget. If you have any questions or need further information, please contact Betty Hung of the UCLA Labor Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alliance for Boys and Men of Color California Immigrant Policy Center California Labor Federation CLEAN Carwash Campaign Immigrants Rising Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California PolicyLink SEIU United Service Workers West UCLA Labor Center
#MeToo Survivors A New Way of Life Reentry Project ACLU of California African Communities Public Health Coalition AFSCME 3299 Alliance for a Better Community Allies for Immigration Justice San Luis Obispo, CA API Equality LA APIENC (API Equality - Northern California) Arab Resource and Organizing Center Asian Americans Advancing Justice-CA Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA Asian Law Alliance Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement (APIFM) Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council Asian Resources, Inc. Bay Area Asylum Support Coalition (BAASC) Bay Area Community Resources Bend the Arc: Jewish Action Bet Tzedek Legal Services Black Alliance for Just Immigration BPSOS Center for Community Advancement Buen Vecino Building Skills Partnership Burma Refugee Families & Newcomers CAIR California California Central Valley Journey for Justice California Faculty Association California Federation of Teachers California Health Professional Student Alliance (CaHPSA) California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance California Latinas for Reproductive Justice California Partnership California Physicians Alliance (CaPA) California Teachers Association Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) Center for Workers' Rights Central American Resource Center (CARECEN-LA) Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative (CVIIC) Centro de Vida Victoriosa AG Centro Legal de La Raza Chinese for Affirmative Action Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice Clinica Romero Coachella Valley Immigrant Dignity Coalition Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) COFEM College Track Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, Inc. Community Health Councils Community Power Collective Construction Trades Workforce Initiative CRLA Foundation Day Worker Center of Mountain View Dolores Street Community Services Drug Policy Alliance Education and Leadership Foundation Employee Rights Center Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC) Ensuring Opportunity Campaign to End Poverty in Contra Costa Equal Rights Advocates Espacio Migrante Faith and Community Empowerment Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement Food Empowerment Project Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries (FIRM) Friends Committee on Legislation of California Future Leaders of America Futures Without Violence Garment Worker Center Gente Organizada HOMIES UNIDOS. Inc. IKAR Immigrant Defenders Law Center Immigrant Family Legal Clinic, UCLA Law Immigration Task Force of the United Methodist Church, Cal-Pac Inclusive Action for the City Indivisible Conejo Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Collective Inland Empire Labor Council, AFL-CIO Inner City Struggle Instituto de Educacion Popular del Sur de California Instituto Laboral de la Raza Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity K.W. Lee Center for Leadership Khmer Girls in Action Kid City Hope Place Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) KIWA (Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance) Korean Community Center of the East Bay Korean Resource Center (KRC) La Luz Center La Raza Centro Legal LA Voice Latin Advocacy Network (LATINAN) Latino and Latina Roundtable of the San Gabriel and Pomona Valley Latino Coalition for a Healthy California Latinx Physicians of California Legal Aid at Work Long Beach Forward Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) Los Angeles Black Worker Center Los Angeles College Faculty Guild, AFT 1521 Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Los Angeles LGBT Center Los Angeles United Methodist Urban Foundation MAIZ San Jose Maternal and Child Health Access Matthew 25/Mateo 25 Mi Familia Vota Mixteco/Indígena Community Organizing Project NAACP Pomona Valley Branch NAPAFASA National Council of Jewish Women, Sacramento National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) National Domestic Workers Alliance National Employment Law Project National Immigration Law Center National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles National Skills Coalition NEFFCON-IE (National Ecumenical Forum for Filipino Concerns - Inland Empire) Nicaragua Center for Community Action Nikkei Progressives North Bay Jobs with Justice Oasis Legal Services Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA) Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA) 5
PICO CALIFORNIA Pomona Economic Opportunity Center Pre-Health Dreamers Promesa Boyle Heights Proteus Inc . Resilience Orange County Richmond Community Foundation Root & Rebound San Bernardino Community Service Center, Inc San Diego Organizing Project San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network Santa Ana Building Healthy Communities Satrang Socal SCOPE LA SEIU California SIREN (Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network) South Asian Network Southeast Asian Community Alliance Southwestern Law School Pro Bono Removal Defense Program St. Stephen's Episcopal Church Starting Over, Inc STOP COALITION Street Level Health Project Team4Tech Thai Community Development Center Thai Health And Information Services The California Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church The Program for Torture Victims The Unity Council The Wall Las Memorias Project (TWLMP) TODEC Legal Center UC Merced Civic Capacity Research Initiative UCI DREAM Center UFCW Local 770 Undocuadvocates at CSUSB United Educators of San Francisco United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) United to Save the Mission UPLIFT LA Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, Occidental College Ventura County Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE-VC) Vision y Compromiso Wage Justice Center Women's Employment Rights Clinic Worksafe Youth ALIVE! Youth Forward Youth Justice Coalition
Cc: Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Julie Su
Members of California State Legislature
1 P.L. 110-457.
2 Brian Resnick, “Why We Don't Immediately Send the Border Kids Back,” The Atlantic (Jul. 8, 2014); https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/07/why-we-dont-immediately-send-the-border-kidsback/453345/.
3 See, e.g., Cong. Record (House), William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, Dec. 10, 2008, at H10902, Statement of Rep. Smith (NJ) (“By protecting the victims and not sending them back to their home country where they are often exploited in a vicious cycle of exploitation, we say to the victims we will make every effort to make you safe and secure.”); id. at 10903, Statement of Rep. Loretta Sanchez (CA) (The TVPRA “provides additional protections for trafficking survivors who are threatened by trafficking perpetrators, and for children who are at risk of being repatriated into the hands of traffickers or abusers.”).
4 INA §208(a)(2)(A); see also INA §235(b)(ii).
5 UN General Assembly, “Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees;” http://www.unhcr.org/enus/3b66c2aa10. See also 8 U.S.C. § 1231(b)(3)(A).
6 “Order Suspending Introduction of Certain persons From Countries Where a Communicable Disease Exists,” 85 FR 17060.
7 “Notification of Temporary Travel Restrictions Applicable to Land Ports of Entry and Ferries Service Between the United States and Mexico,” 85 FR 16547.
8 CBP, “COVID-19 CAPIO”, https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6824221-COVID-19-CAPIO.html.
9 See, e.g., Nick Miroff, “Facing coronavirus pandemic, Trump suspends immigration laws and showcases vision for locked-down border” Washington Post (Apr. 3, 2020); https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/coronavirustrump-immigration-border/2020/04/03/23cb025a-74f9-11ea-ae50-7148009252e3_story.html.
10 Ted Hesson, Mica Rosenberg, “U.S. deports 400 migrant children under new coronavirus rules” Reuters (Apr. 7, 2020); https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-deportations/us-deports-400-migrant-childrenunder-new-coronavirus-rules-idUSKBN21P354. 11 See, e.g., Nick Miroff, “Facing coronavirus pandemic, Trump suspends immigration laws and showcases vision for locked-down border” Washington Post (Apr. 3, 2020); https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/coronavirustrump-immigration-border/2020/04/03/23cb025a-74f9-11ea-ae50-7148009252e3_story.html.
12 UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “Key Legal Considerations on access to territory for persons in need of international protection in the context of the COVID-19 response,” (Mar. 2020); https://www.refworld.org/docid/5e7132834.html.
13 President Trump, “President Donald J. Trump is Working to End Human Trafficking” (Mar. 13, 2018); https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-working-end-human-trafficking/.
14 6 U.S.C. 279(g)(2).
15 Nick Miroff, “Facing coronavirus pandemic, Trump suspends immigration laws and showcases vision for lockeddown border” Washington Post (Apr. 3, 2020); https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/coronavirus-trumpimmigration-border/2020/04/03/23cb025a-74f9-11ea-ae50-7148009252e3_story.html.
16 See, e.g., Physicians for Human Rights, Human Rights First, et al., “Responding to the COVID-19 Crisis While Protecting Asylum Seekers – Update” (Mar. 25, 2020); https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/press-release/respondingcovid-19-crisis-while-protecting-asylum-seekers-update.
This appendix contains stories of immigrant workers who have started their own cooperatives and small businesses. Their stories reflect the potential of the SEED initiative to promote California’s economic recovery and revitalization through immigrant leadership and capacity building that creates high road, quality jobs and promotes democracy in the workplace.
Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California: Courage, LLC
Since being organized in October of 2013, Courage, LLC has been instrumental in helping shape an environment where immigrant workers can find jobs wherein their dignity and rights are upheld. The caregiving industry is ripe with conditions that make it easy for employers to take advantage of the workers. There is a high rate of wage and hour violations, misclassification, horrible working conditions, and abuse. Caregivers are usually unaware of their rights and are afraid to complain or report their issues for fear of retaliation.
Worker Leader: Tess Sattar, a Courage LLC worker/owner (Los Angeles):
“Being a member/owner of Courage, LLC has helped me tremendously by providing me work with a fair wage that helps sustain my personal needs as well as that of my family’s. I can pay my bills and have good food on the table. I don’t have any worries about having to work while I’m injured or when I or any member of my family is sick because we have worker’s compensation, as well as paid time off.
Membership has also provided me opportunities to improve my knowledge, skills, and techniques through various training sessions and seminars that keep me updated about the industry. Another benefit is the possibility of connecting with other organizations and their members who are fighting for worker rights. This has helped me be aware of my rights as a worker and has given me a platform to inform and help other people.
Before this, I was one of those caregivers paid a daily rate of $120 for 24-hour work. I had to work long hours for very little pay and was away from my family. Now, as a member, I can dictate my schedule, and work decent hours. I’m able to spend time with my grandson and get enough rest. It has given me the quality of life that I have been denied when I was working for an agency.
We need to make sure that workers and well-meaning consumers have the choice to receive proper protection and care. For this reason, cooperatives need the support and funding that the SEED Program would be able to provide.”
Immigrants Rising: Kickstarter Award
Immigrants Rising’s Entrepreneurship Fund provides financial support for the entrepreneurial projects of undocumented young people working to create positive social change. Every month they award up to $2,000 short-term, non-renewable funding through Entrepreneurship Fund Kickstarter Grants.
Red Hair Salon
Entrepreneur: Maria Neda (Azusa)
Maria Neda was born in Sonora, México and received her degree in Accounting from Instituto Tecnológico de Sonora. Years later, she studied cosmetology and decided to pursue a career in the beauty industry. Now she combines both skill sets in the management of her business, Red Hair Salon.
Passionate about beauty and determined to secure a better quality of life for herself and her community, Maria founded Red Hair Salon in 2013, which seeks to create a place where clients can relax, have friendly cross-cultural conversations and leave with improved confidence. As a business owner, Maria believes strongly in the importance of continuing to learn new skills and techniques, as well as working alongside people with a range of cultural backgrounds and beliefs.
Maria knows from experience how difficult it is to be an immigrant entrepreneur without access to traditional funding or support. That’s why she is excited to install new workstations at the salon for recent immigrant cosmetologists to rent as they get their businesses off the ground. Taking into consideration how many service industry workers in her community have been hit hard by COVID-19, Red Hair Salon will also offer family haircut discounts on the first Tuesday of every month.
Entrepreneurs: Amritpal Kaur and Avi Stewart (San Fernando Valley)
Both first-generation college students at Cal State Northridge, Amrit Kaur is an undocumented filmmaker from Punjab, India and Avi Stewart is an African American musician from San Bernardino, CA. As working artists of color, they are all too familiar with feeling broke, discouraged, and burned out. That’s why they created MuseRoom, a reliable tool for artists to find fulfilling employment and further their careers in their field. Tapping into the rich collective wisdom of the creatives in their community, MuseRoom not only connects artists to gigs in their area, but also offers professional development through workshops, webinars, and support groups.
Even though MuseRoom is designed to serve all artists in the Southern California region, Amrit and Avi are especially committed to breaking down the barriers that keep POC, undocumented, and other marginalized people from pursuing creative careers. They want MuseRoom to serve as a hub of opportunities for people who otherwise would not have the resources to earn a living as artists, building pathways to greater community wealth and representation.
Daol Tofu & Korean BBQ
Entrepreneur: Ju Hong (Oakland)
Ju Hong is a co-owner of Daol Tofu & Korean BBQ, a restaurant located in Oakland, California. Ju started the business with his mother in early 2017, with the hopes of delivering high quality, authentic Korean cuisine and empowering communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.
They moved from South Korea to the U.S. 18 years ago, Ju and his mother dreamed of starting their own business. Achieving their dream with the launch of Daol Tofu & Korean BBQ.
Ju and his mother are deeply committed to empowering women of color, low-income people, and immigrants living in the San Francisco Bay Area. They have hired 15 servers, kitchen chefs, and dishwashers; served over 35,000 customers; and partnered with more than 20 small businesses and nonprofit and local government organizations in an effort to build a strong network of entrepreneurs and small businesses in the Bay Area. They envision contributing to social change by sharing their entrepreneurial journey and bringing people together to enjoy authentic Korean food.
CLEAN Carwash Campaign: Detail Training Program
The CLEAN Carwash Campaign works with carwasherxs to access higher-paying positions in car washes as detailers through a program envisioned and developed by car wash worker leaders on CLEAN's Worker Center Committee (CWOC). Worker cooperatives are a key workforce development and career ladder strategy used by CLEAN.
Worker Leader: Luis Diaz (Los Angeles)
Luis Diaz is a leader within the CleanWash cooperative’s formation efforts. Luis worked in the same car wash for 24 years, however he never thought of himself as a car wash owner. After participating in CLEAN’s leadership development training, he quickly became a committee leader and an instructor of CLEAN’s Detail Training. Luis led the first recruitment of interested workers to discuss the formation of the co-op. As he became more involved, he saw the impact that he was creating and consequently made significant changes in his life in order to be part of each meeting, training, and convening. In addition to being committed to the mission of CleanWash, Luis is the proud father of 4 children and the husband of a “Promotora de Salud.”