Murphy proposes $53M fund to aid undocumented immigrants
Gov. Phil Murphy before giving his budget address at the Statehouse in Trenton on March 8, 2022. (Danielle Richards for New Jersey Monitor)
Another relief fund could be coming for undocumented immigrants under a plan Gov. Phil Murphy proposed Tuesday in his budget speech.
The governor is seeking $53 million to provide one-time direct payments to residents who file taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number and did not receive pandemic stimulus aid. If approved by lawmakers, the program would provide a $500 benefit to roughly 80,000 households, state officials said.
This comes just weeks after the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund — intended to provide cash relief to undocumented immigrants and others ineligible for federal pandemic aid — received nearly double the number of applications the fund was initially intended to handle. According to budget documents, state officials expect to dole out nearly $60 million to as many as 35,000 applicants, $20 million more than initially proposed.
Officials said they learned from the mistakes made with the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund, which critics said was saddled with a cumbersome application process, shifting eligibility requirements, and a lengthy application review period. Limiting the new benefit to ITIN holders would get people money quickly, an administration official said.
More than 130,000 New Jerseyans — largely undocumented residents — file their taxes with an ITIN, a tax processing number available for some immigrants, their spouses, and dependents who cannot get a Social Security number.
People who received money through the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund would also be eligible for the $500 benefit.
The proposal would need to be approved by the Joint Budget Committee.
New Jersey is home to nearly a half-million undocumented residents, all of whom were ineligible for unemployment benefits and stimulus aid.
According to a 2020 New Jersey Policy Perspective report, undocumented immigrants pay approximately $587 million in state and local taxes each year.
Other proposals in Murphy’s budget plan include maintaining $8.2 million for legal representation for people facing deportation and $3 million for legal service programs for unaccompanied migrant children.
Murphy also announced a potential $11 million to provide health care for undocumented immigrant children.
SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.