Unemployment benefits wrongly denied to TPS holders in California

Last week I learned that in California, the Employment Development Department (EDD) suspended the unemployment benefits of at least two Salvadorans who are under the protection of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program because their employment authorization cards had expired.

To one of these individuals, EDD sent a letter telling him that he was ineligible for benefits because his employment authorization document expired on September 9, and that he could appeal this decision. When he spoke to an EDD representative on the phone, he was told the same thing even though he explained that he was protected by TPS. He called back and another representative told him that they were going to review his case and that if they verified that his TPS status was still valid they would send him a letter inviting him to reapply for unemployment benefits. They also told him that he would not receive retroactive benefits when his benefits are reinstated. In the meantime, this man, who is in need, is not receiving his unemployment check.

Another person told me that his benefits were also suspended because his card had expired, but that he received them again when they sent him his new document.

The California EDD has acted improperly in denying these individuals with TPS their unemployment benefits.

When the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the extension of TPS for Salvadorans, it also indicated that work permits under TPS, which were set to expire on September 9, 2010, were automatically extended until March 9, 2011. This means that the documents are still valid to prove that you can legally work in the country, and therefore, it is also a valid document to receive unemployment benefits.

I have already taken action and have written a letter to the California EDD asking them to investigate the error and correct it.

There is a high probability that there are more cases like this one and that it has affected not only Salvadorans, but also Hondurans and Nicaraguans whose employment authorization cards have expired.

We know that this problem exists in California, but we do not know if unemployment benefits offices in other states have also made the same mistake.

If you or someone you know has been denied unemployment benefits because your employment authorization card expired, please send me an email with your name and state of residence. This way, we can find out how many cases there are to notify the authorities of the error.