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article imageOp-Ed: Calif. Dems push to extend health, legal rights for immigrants

By Karen Graham     Apr 7, 2015 in Politics
Sacramento - California Democrats are taking things into their own hands because of federal inaction over immigration reform. On Tuesday they announced a 10-bill package that would extend health care and legal protection to undocumented immigrants in the state.
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles, are leading the charge to expand health coverage to all Californians, regardless of immigration status. There is just one little problem with the proposal. There's no mention of how the state will pay for all the expanded health coverage.
De Leon spoke at a news conference in Sacramento on Tuesday attended by immigrant-rights advocates and families with members who were in the country illegally. De Leon said, "Today we remind the rest of the nation that California is different."
The $10 billion package will extend health care coverage, legal rights and business protection to approximately 2.5 million illegal immigrants in the state. The package also includes help in applying for legal status if they have been the victim of a crime, as well as assistance for the huge surge of unaccompanied children crossing the border illegally.
Another bill in the package would ban businesses from discriminating against anyone because of their immigration status, country of origin or language. Additional bills in the package would establish a new state agency to help newly arrived immigrants, as well as protect them from "unscrupulous employers," and extend legal protections to avoid detention or deportation.
California's government is dominated by a Democrat majority, from the governor on down, and they are all looking for ways to get the state's illegal immigrants out of the "economic shadows." as they say. While the 10 bills have been previously introduced, on Tuesday they were heralded as "advancing immigrants' rights."
Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, is worried about where the money will come from to pay for all the benefits. "We understand the burdens facing immigrants who want to go to work and raise their families in safe neighborhoods, and the rationale behind these bills is admirable," Huff said. "But without money from Congress and President Obama, it will be very difficult and costly for California taxpayers to fund all of these bill proposals," Huff said.
The California legislature needs to keep in mind that they have already allowed the issuing of driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, as well as adopting the Dream Act that allows college financial aid to top students seeking citizenship. The legislature also wants to add Senate Bill 4, a bit of legislation that would open California's Medicaid program to illegal immigrants, as well as introducing a special new insurance marketplace to get subsidized health benefits for those without legal status.
Governor Jerry Browns 2015-2016 budget has forecast state revenues for 2014-2015 to be $2-plus billion more than was forecast, and this is all well and good. This upbeat revenues forecast is based on the assumption that the state's economy will continue to have steady growth and the stock market will continue to do well.
The state of the stock market is important to California's fortunes because the majority of its tax revenues come from wealthy residents whose incomes are heavily tied to the stock market's ups and downs. And of course, we all know about the drought and its ties to the state's agriculture industry. California might want to be thinking about the not-so-rosy future it may have in store.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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