Governor Signs Budget, Includes Historic Investments for Immigrant Communities

Jun. 24, 2015 / By California Immigrant Policy Center

Key Investments to California’s Immigrant CommunitiesWith an initial investment of $40 million in the 2015-2016 budget – and $132 million in future years – California will take a key first step toward recognizing that health care truly is a human right. This funding will expand access to comprehensive Medi-Cal coverage for all children who call California home while also creating a foundation for the future as we strive to achieve healthcare for all.

We’re also glad to see $15 million allocated for the “One California” proposal. This wise investment in community-based education, outreach, and application assistance for both deportation relief and citizenship will advance immigrant inclusion and strengthen shared prosperity across the state.

Furthermore, investing in a statewide Director of Immigrant Integration within the Brown Administration offers a key opportunity for the state to develop a thoughtful, long-term strategy to fully include and honor our diverse immigrant communities.

The state also maintained its commitment to SB 1210 (Lara), passed last year. Specifically, the  state will direct the UCs and CSUs to use $2.5 million of the funds allocated by this year’s increased budget to support access to student loans for undocumented immigrants who face a financial gap due to their inability to access federal student loans necessary to continue their post-secondary education.

Today’s investments are a recognition that immigrants form a fundamental part of the fabric of our state. Immigrant Californians, documented and undocumented alike, contribute powerfully to our state’s economy and key industries, and investing in immigrants is investing in our state’s future. Immigrants are our neighbors, loved ones, friends, and us – human beings whose basic human rights should be upheld and embraced. We pledge to continue our work to uphold these key principles.

$40 Million to Expand Healthcare To All Kids Regardless of Immigration Status

A previous version of SB 4 that moved through  Senate Health Committee  in April would have expanded Medi-Cal to all Californians regardless of immigration status, while also requesting federal approval via a Section 1332 waiver to allow undocumented adults with higher incomes purchase coverage in Covered California, using their own money, since tax credits or subsidies would not be available.

While SB 4 was on suspense, the Senate took steps to allocate $40 million toward an expansion of health care, and coming off suspense, SB 4 was subsequently amended to ensure that all children in California would receive healthcare regardless of immigration status. It would also authorize for adults to be covered to the extent funding is available in future budget years.

This budget allocates the $40 million dollars for the 2015-16 budget year, and authorizes the program to begin covering all children up to age 19 after May 1, 2016. In subsequent years, the amount allocated will be $132 million dollars. Now that the budget bill has been signed, access to care for undocumented children is guaranteed.

But ultimately, California must build on this foundation to ensure that the parents of these children and other undocumented immigrants can access healthcare as well.

Dollars and (moral) sense. It’s important to note that expanding healthcare to the undocumented makes fiscal sense. According to researchers at UC Berkeley, what’s already spent on emergency services is 60% of the cost of comprehensive coverage – which includes regular doctor’s visits and preventive care. For $65 per child per month extra – a tiny monthly investment – we will change the lives of up to 170,000 children in our state.

Importantly, for just 2 cents on every general fund dollar California already spends on Medi-Cal, our state could have covered everyone, and further investments must be made.

Healthcare is a human right, and no one should suffer or die from an easily treatable condition because of where they were born.  We appreciate the hard work of Senator Lara, Pro Tem De Leon who fought to make this a priority in difficult negotiations with Governor Brown, who ultimately supported the proposal.

SB 4 (Lara) will continue through the legislative process to create the foundation for expanding healthcare coverage to low-income undocumented adults and individuals with higher incomes who wish to purchase coverage using their own money in Covered California, if the state is granted approval by the federal government through a waiver process.

$15 Million for ONE California – Investing in Immigrant Integration & Shared Prosperity

For years, CIPC and partner organizations have advocated for the state to invest in immigrant integration. From the 1998 inception of the Naturalization Services Program to support citizenship services for eligible lawful permanent residents, to the years fighting for the state to restore the program’s funding following a line item veto of proposed funding by Governor Schwarzenegger in the 2008-2009 budget.

This past year our coalition of stakeholders, including immigrants’ rights organizations, faith based organizations, and others reconvened to revamp our advocacy and expand the investment in citizenship services to include much needed support of application assistance, education and outreach for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).

California has the largest backlog of immigrants eligible for citizenship at 2.48 million, and the largest population eligible for relief through DACA and DAPA. Through this investment our Golden State can meaningfully support immigrant communities’ access to the powerful opportunities that deferred action and citizenship bring, and deepen the significant economic benefits for our state.

In the May revision of Governor Brown’s proposed budget, a partial investment of $5 million was added to support application assistance, through qualified non-profits, for immigrants eligible for DACA and DAPA. The coalition was able to work with the legislature and leadership, to augment the investment to $20 million within the legislature’s proposed budget, and include citizenship, and education, and outreach in the funded efforts.

The enacted 2015 -2016 budget signed by Governor Brown includes a $15 million investment in the full scope ONE California proposal of funding education, outreach, and application assistance for DACA, DAPA, and citizenship. With this investment, California takes a historic step to invest directly and meaningfully to support access to deportation relief programs and citizenship, and the continued integration of our immigrant communities.

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