April 8, 2015
Reaction to a California legislative package that would extend health coverage and other protections to undocumented immigrants has been mixed, the Orange County Register reports (Kopetman, Orange County Register, 4/8).
On Tuesday, Democratic state lawmakers introduced the 10-bill package in response to slow-moving federal immigration reform.
The legislative package included SB 4, by state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), which would give undocumented immigrants access to:
- Coverage through Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program; and
- Subsidized health coverage through a newly created insurance exchange.
In addition to health care, the legislative package seeks to expand undocumented immigrants’ legal rights and business protections (California Healthline, 4/7).
Reshma Shamasunder, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, said “This year is poised to mark another crucial milestone on the road to equity for the millions of undocumented immigrants who call the Golden State home” (Orange County Register, 4/8).
Meanwhile, Angie Junck, an attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, said, “This legislative package focuses on protecting the most marginalized in our immigrant communities.”
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) said state lawmakers “intend to set the model,” noting that lawmakers “don’t expect it to be easy, but [they] do expect to succeed.” She added that congressional lawmakers “would be doing something” to advance immigration reform “if it were easy” (Orr, “KXJZ News,” Capital Public Radio, 4/7).
However, Joe Guzzardi, a spokesperson for Californians for Population Stabilization, said that the legislative package — particularly the health-related bills — could encourage more undocumented immigrants to settle in California and exacerbate existing issues, such as water shortages (Orange County Register, 4/8).