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.
According to Homeland Security, the estimated total of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. is between 8-12 million people. California alone is home to around 2 million; that’s 1 in 5 of all undocumented immigrants living in the Golden State. With that large number of people living in the United States, one might think that our government would want to provide support for our undocumented neighbors.
Many undocumented immigrants, specifically undocumented students, face many challenges as they move through the education system in the U.S. Many undocumented students fear that they could get separated from their families due to deportation when at school.
This issue has caught the eye of some very important people. The Sacramento City Unified School District recently declared their schools as safe havens. That means that students are allowed on campus without fear of federal agencies like ICE from entering school premises in search of undocumented immigrants.
Undocumented students also lack the accessibility to federal financial aid, making college harder to attend. State-level financial aid is available, though many undocumented students find it fearful to share very personal information with the government.
“I was lucky to be able to be born in the U.S. but for friends and family, a lot of them are undocumented,” said Angel Perez, a soon-to-be college student. “I will be going to college in the fall but I know some of my friends aren’t due to a lack of federal help.”
In California, there is a new rising wave of support for undocumented students that continues to grow. Free legal services at most UC campuses are offered through support from the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center, and in-state tuition support at public universities through Assembly Bill 540.
One of the many topics that Californians are pushing for is keeping the public-at-large, specifically undocumented students, aware of the information on how to keep moving forward in the education system as an immigrant. It is also on the forefront of many resident’s minds to help students from the constant pressures that surround them.
Attending to 90,000 local residents and consisting of Medical facilities, health resource centers and even a local school district, Building healthy communities partnered up with over thirty Non for profit organizations to change the current healthcare system for undocumented residents. Many of those thirty originizations already support and provide healthcare for undocumented and uninsured of Sacramento. Health access action, part of building healthy communities aims to change the current healthcare system and extend it to provide undocumented residents healthcare insurance regardless of financial status.
In an effort to build and establish healthier neighborhoods, BHC teamed up with UC Davis school of medicine to empower and spread more momentum and awareness on “health for all”. The CMISP other known as County Medical indigenous services program provided healthcare for Sacramento’s Undocumented low income residents in the past. The BHC always looks to eliminate environmental Barriers like transportation to make primary care more accessible.
According to an article published by BHC, they believe by working with stakeholders, public officials and healthcare systems they can design programs that can be implemented into place that would effectively reduce costs for hospitals, families and Sacramento countyoverall. After recognizing that their was a need for policy change in Sacramento regarding Undocumented healthcare, the BHC set out to change Healthcare and create “Health for all” in Sacramento. Building healthy communities is setting out to create solutions for all of California to create Heath care access to everyone statewide.
The California Endowment’s Health 4 All initiative advocates for healthcare for all undocumented immigrants. The purpose of its recent Health 4 All summit was to campaign for healthcare coverage for undocumented Californians. Many of the undocumented immigrants have contributed significantly to the economy and the communities in the state of California.
It is evident that many undocumented immigrants are scrambling to obtain and maintain affordable health coverage. One of the greatest challenges in our community today is healthcare for undocumented immigrants and the way it impacts their lives.
Although the Affordable Care Act has provided healthcare access to many Californians, there are still over a million undocumented immigrants in California that are still uninsured. Health 4 All is taking steps to ensure individuals are covered. One of the greatest challenges is improving in the understanding of the issues from within communities. Health 4 All works to educate struggling families on the important issues about health care and provides ways to build healthier communities.
The California Endowment partners with other organizations to campaign for undocumented immigrants of California. It takes a collaborative effort to push this initiative.
Visionaries from over 30 community organizations from the Building Healthy Communities coalition came together on March 14th to prepare for a Sacramento County workshop that was held later that week. Local undocumented families and members of the general public attended this event to make their voices heard.
Many of these people have been through devastating experiences due to denial of health care coverage. Their passion for equality and human rights is what is fueling their drive. Their hearts are set for the safety of all people, especially those who are being denied hospitalization in emergency situations.
The audiences for this workshop included:
- Health Care professionals, including clinicians and organizational leaders.
- Local elected city officials
- People who care about health access for everyone
The term qualified non citizens includes:
- Granted withhold of deportation
- Cuban/ Haitian entrants
- Lawful permanent residents (LPR/Green Card Holder)
- Paroled into the U.S. for at least one year
- Member of a federally recognized Indian tribe or American Indian born in Canada
- Conditional entrant granted before 1980
- Victims of trafficking and his or her spouse, child, sibling, or parent or individuals with a pending application for a victim of trafficking visa
- Battered non-citizens, spouses, children, or parents
“There are a lot of people who get sick, who get injured and they currently don’t have anywhere to go to take care of the emergency,” says David Ramirez with Sacramento Area Congregations Together. “If they have a diabetic or asthma crisis they go to the hospital for now but they can’t get prescriptions for long-term (care). They can’t get follow-up checkups without paying cash out of their pockets at the full rate add period. Medical Cost are very, very high, and poor people can not pay them so they stay sick and they die.”
“Everyone needs access to healthcare and the undocumented are people just like everyone else,” says Ramirez. “They are working, paying taxes, and have needs like everybody else.”
“These people are working hard and providing services we need, if you have one segment of the population that are sick and dying that weakens your country,” Ramirez says. “It’s a crime against the United States to not take care of our people, and these are our people.”
12 million undocumented residents in the US. 1 million in California. 100,000 in Sacramento County. And many are uninsured under the Affordable Care Act. “An immigrant who meets all eligibility requirements, but is not in a satisfactory immigration status for full scope Medi-Cal is entitled to emergency and pregnancy-related services and, when needed, state-funded long-term care,” states the Medi-Cal website. Despite this, Sacramentans are doing what they can to help undocumented residents receive the care that they need.
In recent years, the State of California has passed laws to provide drivers licenses to undocumented residents. It has also passed the Trust Act, making it harder for the Federal Government to detain and deport illegal immigrants who are not criminals.
“Sacramento County has complied with these laws, but it has done little on its own to support undocumented families,” states Annie Fox, Lead Organizer, Sacramento Area Congregations Together. “For example, in 2009 Sacramento County passed a law saying the county would only provide healthcare to those who could prove lawful residency status, meaning any families including children were cut off from county health services.”
With 100,000 undocumented residents in Sacramento County, this type of legislation may put a strain on Sacramento’s quality of life.
Half of all undocumented youth in California delay seeking necessary medical treatment states researches at the UCLA Labor Center’s Dream Resource Center
”County Supervisor Phil Serna has stood firmly that the county should reverse its stance on providing healthcare to the undocumented, and newly elected county supervisor to be Patrick Kennedy has also championed the issue,” says Fox. “The Sacramento News and Review has done some excellent reporting on the issue though other media outlets have largely ignored it.”
Oak park resident and Mexico native Juan Pedro Aviles can easily recall the struggle he and his wife went through to reach United States.
“It was really difficult to get here, it was really really hot and we had to walk so much,” said Aviles. “When my wife went over the wall, the lady behind her fell on her and sprained my wife’s ankle. It made everything harder.”
Aviles struggles didn’t stop as soon as he crossed the border.
“When we first moved here, we lived in Los Angeles and we would have to sleep on the floor of our relatives house because there was nowhere else for us to stay,” said Aviles.
Aviles says that he has always struggled to get a decent paying job because he is undocumented.
“I can landscape, demolish and construct, but I’ve never found a good paying job. Bosses always try and take advantage of me because I’m Mexican and pay me less. At times I’ve had to stand at Home Depot to get money for my family.”
Aviles has three kids, all born in United States.
“I’ve lived here for 16 years now, I have three daughters that are trying their hardest to succeed,” Aviles says.
Aviles knows that he has been through a lot of difficult times just to live the American Dream.
“I think the thing that hurt me the most was when my daughter started her first day of Kindergarten. She didn’t know any English because we couldn’t teach her (since) we didn’t know it. Kids made fun of her and it really hurt me.”
There are times when he doesn’t even feel safe in his own neighborhood.
“When I first moved here I didn’t have a car, so I would ride my bike to work. One day a couple of men stole my bike I had just bought,” Aviles recalls.
But none of can stop him from chasing his dream of seeing his daughters grow up and become successful people. Until then, nothing he has to go through matters.
The name in this story has been changed to protect the identity of the subject.