NorCal Resist recently sent 15 people to help at the southern border. An event was hosted at the First United Methodist Church where community members could ask questions and discuss issues such as intersectionality and youth involvement, and how they impact asylum law.
On October 10th of this year, the Trump administration issued a statement attempting to change admissibility requirements on the basis of the Immigration and Nationality Act. These proposed changes would cause difficulty for immigrant communities as it would change the requirements for someone to receive legal permanent residence, or “LPR status”, based on previous use of public benefits, labeling them as a “public charge” and more likely to become dependent on these programs. These changes have raised issues, as they would make programs such as food stamps, public housing, and Medicaid less available to immigrant communities.
Many state Attorneys General have spoken out against this proposed change. Xavier Becerra, California’s state Attorney General, published a letter regarding these proposed changes to public charge and how they would affect California’s communities. Becerra called the proposal “…an arbitrary and capricious attack with no legal justification.” Dr. Robert K. Ross of the California Endowment issued a public statement in response to the proposal saying, “This draft rule will also have far-reaching, and potentially lasting impacts on the health of families and children beyond those directly targeted by the proposed rule because, regardless of immigration status, fear and confusion will lead many families to withdraw from benefits to which they have a legal right.”
The legal implications of these changes are far-reaching and nationwide but at the same very personal and will drastically change many California communities. As Becerra explained, California is proudly home to more than 10 million immigrants and these changes would be unconstitutional, target marginalized and vulnerable populations, undermine public health, and create a “chilling effect” in communities.
It’s clear to many that these proposed changes to admissibility requirements would drastically harm the health and well-being of American communities. While the public comment period for the proposal has closed, it is still important that the public remains aware of what is happening in regards to immigration policy so that they may engage in discourse and advocacy to improve the state of the nation.
When Mollie Tibbets’ murderer was identified as undocumented immigrant political officials began to use her death as a racist political argument against the Latino community. Mollie Tibbets father said in the Des Moines Register: “Please leave us out of your debate. Allow us to grieve in privacy and with dignity. At long last, show some decency. On behalf of my family and Mollie’s memory, I’m imploring you to stop.”
Many in the Latino community have been struck hard by the effects of Mollie Tibbets death. Latinos in Des Moine have been attacked with graffiti and robocalls since the suspect was identified as an undocumented immigrant. Donald Trump, Jr. wrote his own Op-Ed in the Des Moines Register blaming democratic policies for the murder of Mollie Tibbets.
Young people in Sacramento have opinions on Mollie Tibbets’ death as well. “We already have to face enough with the fact that we have always been the lower class in society, and ever since Trump was elected racism has gone up for Mexicans and African Americans”, says Caleb, a 16-year-old student.
And he isn’t wrong. In 2017, the Anti-defamation League released a report which stated white supremacists committed the most extremist killings in 2017 compared to other extremist groups.
“Besides if (Mollie Tibbets) was an immigrant, nobody would bat an eye,” Caleb stated. Perhaps it is this statement that is the most important, maybe Americans as a whole need to take a long hard look at ourselves and think about racism and inequality. What can Americans do to bridge the divide?
The Free Our Dreams event at UC Davis brought youth from all around California to come together and discuss issues in their communities. One of the most recent issues Californians and many other people across the country face is the fazing-out of the DACA program. In this video, we explain what DACA is, and how it will affect the people.
Nationally, racial tensions have been on the rise since the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency. An article on the Sacramento Bee website posted in July revealed that in this year so far hate crimes in California have increased by 11.2 percent after 2016’s 21.3 percent increase. 60 percent of hate crimes last year were race-related with Blacks and Latinos as the most targeted groups. In a new trend, it appears that public officials aren’t exempt to these attacks.
Officials like Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León are used getting hate mail like the one he received recently demanding he “hurry up and die”. He says it “comes with territory”. But de León did notice that since last November the hate mail has been getting more frequent and more threatening.
“In my mind, there’s no doubt that Donald Trump has opened up this Pandora’s box,” de León was quoted as saying in a Sacramento Bee article.
“The more high-profile you are, the more of these attacks you get,” said former Assembly speaker Fabian Núñez in the same article.
The target of these attacks are often high-profile officials like de León, who defied Trump’s immigration policies by passing the Senate Bill 54, or the “sanctuary city” bill, in April. That law banned all of California’s law enforcement from assisting in federal immigration enforcement.
“I think it’s sort of redundant to the point of being funny,” says Keven Boult, a Senior at Sacramento Charter High School. “ Like, how many times do we need to embarrass ourselves in order to state our opinion? (Trump supporters) think having (Trump) in office validates their opinions and actions.”
While blaming President Trump personally for the increase in racial tensions may be too far, there’s plenty of examples of American’s expressing themselves in a bolder manner since his swearing in. President Trump himself is on the record denouncing hate crimes and speech, but for those who would use fear and intimidation as tools to frighten the people they disagree with, the current administration inspires those who kept their opinions hidden before to act out in less than desirable ways.
On October 24th 2015, my team and I attended a youth media conference in Los Angeles. While there, I was able to attend a workshop on how as a reporter I can address sensitive topics such as sex trafficking, domestic violence, and immigration. Although this workshop covered many topics, the main thing we discussed was the idea and term of a “child prostitute”. To say a child can be a prostitute implies that they can consent to sex; which as a minor they are unable to do, yet they are still arrested. Due to this contradiction a campaign has started called #nosuchthing.
Over the years, many organizations have been fighting to put the term out of use. One of the youth teams I met with out of Long Beach has been working closely with their local law enforcement to this end. Fortunately now in Long Beach the police department has agreed to no longer use this term and will no longer arrest minors for prostitution. Here in Sacramento we are still working to stop the arrest of child sex trafficking victims. While working on this we have organizations who try to aid these victims such as Courage Worldwide.
Although we did spend a nice chunk of time covering trafficking, we did also discuss the topics of domestic violence and immigration. Both of these issues are something that we in Sacramento face on a day-to day-basis. The leaders of the workshop gave us some helpful tips on how to approach these topics, which to some may be very close to home and sensitive. At the end of the workshop I was able to say I had learned many new things and now feel I am able to address these topics and more in a more knowledgeable and careful way.
A hotly contested issue in California, healthcare for the state’s undocumented residents was the topic of a recent workshop held by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. Attendees of the nearly five hour meeting heard speakers from many different walks of life, voicing their concerns and weighing the benefits and risks of re-expanding health care options for the undocumented in Sacramento County. Support for renewing coverage for the undocumented was high.
The county hearing room, nearly filled to capacity for the occasion, heard testimony from politicians, blue collar workers, medical professionals, business leaders, and non-profit activists among others, with almost overwhelming support for bringing back health care for potentially thousands of residents in the area.
After a call to quorum, testimony began with Dr. Sherri Heller, Director of Health and Human Services for Sacramento County. Heller laid out seven potential options for restoring coverage, each considering issues like number of potential enrollees, cost and complexity, and what each option would actually cover. The eighth option, “to take no action,” needed little explanation.
The role of the Department of Health and Human Services in this hearing was not to recommend any actions, but to do its best to lay out the potential costs and outcomes of different scenarios based on its findings. Heller also compared existing models in other California counties. She went on to cite Fresno as an “unusual case” in the state for its access to specialty care.
The seven action-based options on the table offer a wide range of paths the county can take. They all, however, hinge greatly on the implementation of President Obama’s executive order that would give legal status to an estimated 40% of the country’s roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants. His executive order is currently on hold pending a decision on its legality.
Later testimony included impassioned speeches from politicians, notably from Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a strong supporter of the California Endowment’s #Health4All campaign.
The chamber was filled with applause as Johnson pledged to do “whatever it takes” to restore health coverage to the tens of thousands of undocumented residents in the region.
“That’s the Sacramento we believe in,” the mayor announced to his colleagues and constituents.
Assemblyman Kevin McCarty stepped up to the podium as well, offering his personal experience in the emergency room and attesting to the many people he has seen there who use the ER for their primary care.
“I don’t think you wanted to shut the door on health care for thousands of Sacramentans,” said McCarty sympathetically to the Board.
While recognizing the circumstances that caused coverage to be cancelled for those Sacramentans, McCarty also stressed a point that many others have stressed as well, the unsustainability of denying coverage to so many residents of the county. With the average trip to the ER in the hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars, the assemblyman argued that to rely on those services instead of re-expanding coverage would be “penny wise and pound foolish.”
Similar sentiments were voiced by important figures from across the state, such as Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle, who reminded the chamber of the role immigration has played throughout American history.
“Today’s immigrants are just as important as yesterday’s immigrants,” Valle affirmed.
As elected officials finished their remarks on this highly contested issue, groups granted ten minutes to speak rather than the usual two prepared their arguments.
First up were representatives of the Sacramento Building Healthy Communities, an initiative of the California Endowment, a private health foundation. They voiced concerns particularly for the “barriers” many in the Sacramento region face regarding access to health care.
Backed by dozens in the crowd wearing #Health4All campaign shirts, they made the case before the Board that restoring coverage for the undocumented helped citizens of the county as well.
Pointing out that “disease doesn’t discriminate,” they focused on the fact that keeping more people healthy, even those without documentation, would prevent the spread of illness and help to maintain a healthier, more productive community. For them, the answer is to allow those immigrants back into the health care system.
Following remarks from BHC leaders, Bishop Jaime Soto began with a sharp criticism of the 2009 decision that made this workshop necessary in the first place.
“The silence of the California leadership was deafening,” he said regarding the willingness at the time to let coverage for the undocumented disappear. The bishop also argued that the county had a moral and spiritual commitment to its undocumented population to restore health care access.
The final hours of the workshop were filled by testimony from ordinary citizens who patiently waited for their speaker slip to surface to the top of the pile.
“For two years I looked for a door that might open,” said one immigrant and mother of two who suffered along with her children from extensive medical issues. “At times I felt afraid.” She required a Spanish-to-English interpreter for her testimony, but her passion for the issue did not need translating.
More speakers requiring translation followed, all with personal experiences on the undocumented side of the health care debate.
“I just want to work,” said one man, whose insurance was denied to treat a work-related injury. “I can’t work.” The man had difficulty walking as he exited the chamber.
Despite a flood of support for the #Health4All campaign, it was clear that not all in attendance agreed. One voice of dissent came from Davi Rodrigues, a ranking member of Save Our State in Sacramento, an organization considered by the Southern Poverty Law Center to be a hate group.
In his opening remarks, Rodrigues began with criticism of the term “undocumented immigrant” itself. The phrase, he said was “dreamed up by people who are in support of illegal immigration.”
He went on to offer an alternative not yet heard by the chamber: repatriation. Rodrigues believes that the immigrants’ countries of origin are “responsible for their own upkeep.” If an undocumented immigrant is in need of medical care, he proposes directing them to the proper medical facilities in their home countries, dismissing the possibility that poor medical care could be what drives many people from their home countries in the first place.
Rodrigues also disparaged the amount of money each option would cost the taxpayers, something his opponents insist would, due to a healthier working population, pay for itself.
“Out here is not your constituency,” he said to the Board with a finger pointed to the crowd behind him. “They’re hard at work. They’re the ones where the money comes from, and they can’t be here because this is a work day,” he added suggestively.
After being asked to finish his remarks, the SOS leader turned his frustration towards Chairman of the Board Phil Serna, whom he claimed did not grant him the six minutes owed to him as a non-profit organization. Serna denied receiving such a request from Rodrigues, to which he struck his hand on the podium, instructed the Chairman to “read your mail next time,” and promptly left the chamber. Testimony continued shortly thereafter.
The views of Davi Rodrigues were clearly not shared by most in the room, as the remaining speakers showed their resounding support for the #Health4All cause. And after dozens of testimonies, the workshop was adjourned.
Although no measures were actually voted on in this workshop, and with no vote officially planned yet, Wednesday’s meeting was an important step forward in the conversation. For the undocumented residents of Sacramento County, basic health care, considered to be a human right by some, is finally within reach.
In March 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The purpose of this statute was to provide affordable healthcare for all who need it in the United States, regardless of gender or pre-existing conditions. As of March 31st, 2014, 7 million people have taken advantage of the new legislation and are now receiving health care benefits. However, the benefits have not been extended to all those who call the United States home. Undocumented immigrants- which make up almost 5% of the US workforce- are unable to take advantage of the new “healthcare for all” mentality. The California Immigrant Policy Center is working hard to make the dream of basic health care a reality for every undocumented immigrant in our state, and they are making sure everyone knows about them and their cause with the “Health For All Undocu-CARE-van”.
A journey covering more than 500 miles, the caravan took health advocates, youth leaders and undocumented immigrants traveled from San Diego to Sacramento to propose a new health care act, the Health for All act, which would allow any and all undocumented immigrants in California to access the same health care benefits Americans receive through the new legislation. Senator Ricardo Lara, representing Huntington Park and Long Beach, is the author of this new legislation which will hopefully gather more support in the upcoming months. This Undocu-CARE-van was one of the first steps towards creating awareness. The caravan of advocates boarded a 12-seater van covered in colorful signs, large posters of band-aids, and Vapor Rub bottles with the words “Health4All” emblazoned on the sides. These large images were designed to illustrate that the undocumented citizens of California are tired of treating their loved ones with ineffective home remedies.
“Excluding people from access to are hurts the overall health of our communities, and does not reflect California values.” says Senator Ricardo Lara, the man behind the creation of the new health plan.
To read the complete bill, visit http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB1005.
By Juan Albarran
Doctor Doctor I know you had a dream,
But I’ve got one too as you can see.
They say that tears are weakness in the eyes,
But it’s actually impotence expressed in physical form,
How can one chose to “protect” themselves and punish others though anti- immigration reform.
You claim we take your jobs,
But when have you seen a line when they were hiring for fieldworkers, janitors or maids?
Instead you organize yourselves, “investigate,” come into our work place and carry out your raids.
Mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, same family values,
Though they come in different color,
Their dream is not to invade but to progress with each hard earned dollar.
Crossing deserts, rivers and leaving behind their native lands,
These people you call “unauthorized immigrants” have come only to praise the American sands.
I’d like to ask you ma’am Mrs. Janice Kay,
Is it alright to tear apart a working family?
And rid them of the pillar of the house, is that alright? Is that ok?
It must be to you, and to those who reside in Colorado too,
You like building walls? How’s the Berlin for déjà vu?
You want to say “show me your papers”
How about you show your country some respect?
Can’t you see the harm your causing America’s people is more damaging than the green house effect?
Diversity is key, we established that in sixteen twenty one,
But for some reason you’re acting like God had a favorite son.
We’re all the same at heart, a distinct culture that’s all.
If He had not been born in Nazareth, would you still call him Jesus?
If we were not born in America, are we not people?
To give a better future, a safe place to sleep at night,
We may not be called “American,” but we have a dream too.
But now you’ve left some of us orphans, feeling pain, despised and feeling blue.
Not California though, California is a true friend,
My California will stand against these racial profiling laws that you intend.
What’s the point of a melting pot if you’re intention is to segregate the colors in the end?
That’s some thought homework for you, hope you know that no matter what you do,
America will support the working class, be it white, brown, black or any other color…we will transcend.