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Crosscurrents is our award-winning radio news magazine, broadcasting Mondays through Thursdays at 5 p.m. on 91.7 FM. We make joyful, informative stories that engage people across the economic, social, and cultural divides in our community. Listen to full episodes at kalw.org/crosscurrents

Phone Lines Flooded As Undocumented Workers Apply for Pandemic Aid

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The California State Capitol in Sacramento, California. California launched a relief fund for its undocumented residents this week, though the program has already had some problems.

Between 10 and 30 percent of California’s essential workers are undocumented. But because of immigration status, they don’t qualify for some of the social benefits that other workers are relying on through this pandemic. 

This week, California is trying to make up for that with a first-of-its-kind relief fund, though the program has already run into problems.

If you are undocumented and want to apply for assistance, please call the nonprofit that is handling aid applications in your county or region. You can find a full list of those nonprofits by county here.

Residents of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties should call the Catholic Charities of California at 1-866-490-3899.

Residents of Napa, Solano or Sonoma counties should contact the California Human Development Corporation at (707) 228-1338.

San Francisco, Oakland and Sonoma County have also set up relief funds for undocumented residents. Please note that Sonoma’s fund has closed its waitlist due to an influx in applications, though the organization is working to raise more money; San Francisco’s fund is “temporarily paused” for several weeks to address technical issues. Relief funds have also been launched to serve migrant youth and the recently incarcerated. The city of San Francisco has compiled a list of Bay Area relief programs here.

Teresa Cotsirilos is a reporter at KALW, where she covers labor rights and public health in the Bay Area’s immigrant communities. A recipient of the IWMF Adelante Fellowship and the Center for Health Journalism's National Fellowship, she is currently investigating California wildfire cleanups and their impact on immigrant workers’ health and safety.