Power in Action

California IAF Declares a Victory for Essential Workers

For Immediate Release—June 30, 2020

Faith and community leaders with the California Industrial Areas Foundation celebrate a victory for essential workers today after Governor Newsom signed a budget that includes an expansion of the California Earned Income Tax Credit (Cal EITC) to undocumented workers with young children.

One out of ten workers in California is undocumented, and their labor has largely fallen into work deemed “essential” throughout the pandemic—in agriculture, food distribution and service, elder care and child care among other occupations.

“What we have been pressing for is justice for essential workers, not charity,” said Fr. Arturo Corral, with Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, One LA. “It cannot be disputed that immigrant workers are bearing the brunt of pandemic-related health risks in order to keep all our boats afloat. We could not provide food for our families without their labor. They pay billions in local and state taxes, and they contribute over 180 billion dollars to our economy. And they have been ruthlessly left out of federal relief. So,

"Governor Newsom’s decision to include immigrant taxpayers in the Cal EITC means that our state is finally beginning to recognize our immigrant workforce and to value their labor.” - Fr. Arturo Corral, Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church

On May 5, 2020, over 1,200 California IAF leaders convened on Zoom, along with 10 Bishops and 9 state legislators to press Governor Newsom to expand the Cal EITC. More than 1,000 faith and community leaders signed on to a letter in support of the expansion, and in the thick of budget negotiations organized hundreds of leaders to send letters to the Governor and to the top leadership of the senate and assembly.

“Under the states’ current economic situation, we are happy to be able to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit program for ITIN filing California families,” said Senator Maria Elena Durazo, a major proponent for the expansion.

“Thank you to the California IAF members for continuing to push for this inclusion, which United Way sees as a fundamental tool to move families out of poverty. With your continued advocacy, California will move out of this global pandemic, a more united and inclusive state.” - Senator Maria Elena Durazo

While not a full expansion to all undocumented workers, the tax credit will help tens of thousands of families with at least one child under the age of six who pay their taxes using an ITIN. Some households may receive up to $2,600 each year, depending on their income and family size, a significant investment in some of the most vulnerable families impacted by the pandemic.

“We commend Governor Newsom and state legislators for investing in families, especially during a deficit year,” said Rabbi Susan Leider with Congregation Kol Shofar, Marin Organizing Committee. “We know they have faced enormous pressure to cut back, and instead they have paid in. This tax credit is not just a one time handout, but will help families year after year. Our leaders have been working for months to make sure our essential workers aren’t left behind, and this is a huge step forward.”

Community leaders celebrate today, but also know that there is much more to do to buffer immigrant and low-income workers from the health and economic risks ahead. With recent economic forecasts predicting a slow economic recovery, IAF organizations continue to organize hundreds of conversations on the ground, to build power and to uncover other avenues for action.

“We are concerned that our low income and undocumented families will continue to be the hardest hit as we inch our way out of this pandemic,” said Maria Elena Manzo, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Salinas, and a leader with COPA. “We’ll need to keep expanding this tax credit to reach more people. To that end, we look forward to continuing our meetings with the Governor’s office and with our state and local legislators. We will need to find innovative ways to invest in our families, in their health, their housing, their job training and their employment prospects in difficult months ahead.”

The California IAF represents 8 broad-based organizations from across the state, covering Southern California, the Inland Empire, Central Coast, Bay Area and parts of the Central Valley and Far North. Local organizations work with faith communities, unions, schools and other institutions to teach people the habits and practices of public life. All organizations are nonpartisan, multi-issue and multilingual.


California Industrial Areas Foundation

Immigrant Workers Face Economic Uncertainty During Covid-19 ShutdownAmerica Magazine

Lideres religiosos piden mas apoyo para la comunidad inmigrante, [VIDEO] Telemundo Bay Area

Local Faith Leaders Support Undocumented Workers, Los Altos Crier

Líderes religiosos piden al estado que apoye a los inmigrantes indocumentados, The Pajaronian

Faith Leaders Call on State to Support Undocumented Immigrants, The Pajaronian


The Covid-19 Pandemic is unlike any challenge we’ve faced in recent history. In order to slow the onset of the disease in our community, one of the few tools we have is social distancing. The very idea of distancing presents challenges for our institutions, our congregations, schools and associations, which all value human connection, not distance. As we face the prospect of widespread human suffering, both from the disease itself and the remedy, we need to understand and address what is happening in our community.

For 45 years, the West/Southwest IAF has used the practices and habits of organizing to assert the common good in public life. Over those years, in the midst of addressing serious issues, our best strategies have emerged when we work together.  As a network, we are employing these same strategies, sometimes with new technological tools, in the coronavirus crisis. 

Deploying a Relational Response to this Crisis:

  • Listen and caucus:
    Leaders in West / Southwest IAF Institutions are forming teams to listen and learn what is happening with people. Teams are then working with West / Southwest IAF Organizations to caucus safely via phone or online and reflect on what they’ve heard.
  • Conduct Research Actions:
    To understand this moment and how it is impacting us and our communities, West / Southwest IAF Leaders will meet, online and by telephone, with experts and public officials. 
  • Act strategically:
    West / Southwest IAF Organizations will act collectively on the local, state and federal level.

As West / Southwest IAF leaders and institutions, we are called to maintain the bonds of community and act decisively to respond to the needs of our families and neighbors.



Leaders prepared by the West/Southwest IAF and Interfaith Education Fund leverage local and statewide wins that directly impact family health, wealth and safety.  With your support, we can continue to develop the leaders who will make life better for families and communities in 2020.

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