Following blowback from families and lawmakers, New Jersey to reinstate fund for excluded workers

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“The pandemic has posed challenges for residents across New Jersey, but those who were previously excluded from federal assistance have been unable to get the help they need,” Murphy said in a statement reported by NJ.com. “By continuing to fund the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund and simplifying the application process, we are making sure more families who are eligible for this program receive much-awaited assistance.”

In urging a reinstatement of the funds earlier this month, families and advocates like Make the Road New Jersey had urged Murphy to look to states like New York, which distributed the entirety of its more than $2 billion in funds to excluded workers (advocates there are calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul to extend further relief). Latino lawmakers in the state then echoed the call of New Jersey families, calling the diversion of funds back to the state “beyond comprehension,” noting that thousands of workers “continue to struggle in the wake of the pandemic.”

In addition to reinstating the funds, thousands of applications “that are still pending or were rejected” will be reviewed under the updated system, Gothamist reported. The deadline to apply, which was approaching in just days, has now been extended to the end of February.

“A half-million New Jerseyans have been excluded from nearly every form of aid during a pandemic that has disproportionately taken their lives,” Make the Road New Jersey’s Jenny Llugcha said in the NJ.com report. “Following a strong community reaction to the news of changes to the fund last week, Governor Murphy made the right move by reopening and replenishing the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund and committing to a more streamlined application process.”

While this is genuinely a massive victory for excluded workers—some of whom launched hunger strikes to call attention to the need for relief—advocates continued to urge the need to expand the fund to cover more essential workers long blocked from federal relief due to their immigration status. “Despite performing the life-saving and often risky labor that has kept so many of us safe throughout the pandemic, New Jersey’s nearly half-million undocumented workers, the vast majority of whom are people of color, and their families cannot access the aid they so desperately need and deserve,” unions said last year in urging the implementation of an excluded workers fund.

“New Jersey cannot recover from the pandemic if we excluded hundreds of thousands of our state’s residents,” Make the Road New Jersey said in a statement. “Immigrant essential workers fought for 17 months to win relief, but at current funding levels, fewer than 5% of individuals left behind from aid will obtain assistance. We need $1 billion in aid to build a safety net that leaves no one behind.”

RELATED: New Jersey’s Latino lawmakers say decision reallocating excluded worker funds ‘beyond comprehension’





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