Undocumented workers feed us. However you feel about immigration, they deserve healthcare.


Here’s the question I’m grappling with: Should my home state of California provide subsidized health care coverage to undocumented immigrants?

There is no need to weigh. The question is non-negotiable. California will soon become the first state to offer universal access to health insurance.

The historic change was part of Democratic administration Gavin Newsom’s next state budget allocation, which includes a plan to expand the state’s Medi-Cal program.

That program ensures low-income residents have state-funded access to health care, and it already provides coverage to undocumented immigrants who are younger than 26 or older than 50. But previously, the program left out those in the middle. — which it’s safe to say they represent the hardest-working and most productive age group.

From January 1, 2024, Medi-Cal will be expanded to an additional 700,000 undocumented residents between the ages of 26 and 49. This change is expected to result in the largest drop in the number of uninsured Californians in a decade.

This is a good thing, right? At first I wasn’t so sure, because I had to solve the idea in my own head, and more importantly, in my own heart.

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To me, ensuring that all undocumented immigrants have health insurance – from cradle to grave – conflicts with two different aspects of how I see the world.

On the one hand, in the immigration debate – just like in the debates about gun control or abortion or vaccines or whatever – I avoid the extremes and aim for the center. That means being willing to compromise, negotiate, and give up a little to get a little back. You can’t overreach, get greedy, or take too much. You have to be reasonable and restrained and avoid the policies supported by the people on the radical fringe.

That part of me suggests that this change is not a good idea. It feels like Newsom and the Democrats running this state have given up the pursuit of consensus, and now they’re just rubbing Republicans in the face on whatever progressive cause they can.

Why? Because they can. In a deep blue state where Democratic lawmakers can vote whatever they want without a single Republican vote, the party in power is handling it with abandon. And to borrow a word the liberal media overused during the reign of former President Donald Trump: Democrats want to “normalize” the idea that people are in the United States illegally.

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If someone crosses a country’s border without permission, or leaves a visa too long, we shouldn’t be so eager to sweep this under the rug. The only exceptions are the so-called Dreamers who were brought here as children by their parents. We should always try to accommodate those who had no choice. But what the Democrats in California are doing now goes far beyond that. And in a way it’s inappropriate.

Think of the ravenous excesses of Republicans in Texas when it comes to guns, abortion and LGBTQ rights. Things can get ugly and crazy fast when one side runs rough over the other, right?

Well, that’s exactly how California Republicans — the few that are left — feel about the legislative deception taking place in the Golden State.

The global pandemic should have been a wake-up call that made it clear to Californians once and for all who is buttering their bread — after making both the butter and the bread.

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That said, there’s another side to this story — and another part of me. That section is not at all convinced by complaints that somehow giving health insurance to a bunch of hardworking, economically disadvantaged people who can’t afford it — and so often just walking around, going to work sick and making others sick” normalizes. illegal activity.

That’s absurd. You know what really normalizes illegal immigration? The fact that California employers—starting with the typical household—can’t get enough of it and can’t live without it.

Californians – like most Americans – are addicted to cheap and reliable labor. Among the most dependent are American homeowners, who have become dependent on the “temporary pool” of undocumented workers for gardeners, housekeepers, nannies and senior caretakers. (As well as farms, ranches, restaurants, hotels, resorts, and construction companies.)

In California — which has the world’s fifth largest economy with an annual gross state product (GSP) of $3.4 trillion — if we didn’t have undocumented immigrants to keep the wheels turning, we’d have to invent them.

Fresh Harvest farm workers arrive early in the morning to begin harvesting in Greenfield, California. They practice social distancing and use masks, gloves, hairnets and aprons.

Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images

And yet, even in this massive economy, where the state government in California today has more money than it knows what to do thanks to a $100 billion surplus, undocumented Californians make up the state’s largest group of uninsured, according to the University of the United States. California Berkeley Labor Center.

And where did that surplus come from? Much of it comes not from individuals, but from the corporations, firms, and corporations that do business in California.

Let’s look at just one of those industries — one that would be completely crippled without undocumented workers (and that’s under normal circumstances, not the labor shortage we’re experiencing in the state right now): agriculture.

Roman Pinal of the United Farm Workers (UFW) hands out face masks and hand sanitizer to a farm worker as they pick lemons in an orchard in Ventura County, California.

Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/TUSEN via Getty Images

Don’t cry for farmers in California. If they don’t grow peaches, avocados, lettuce and dozens of other crops, they are printing money. According to the University of California-Davis Global Migration Center, California’s 70,000 farms sold $50 billion in agricultural commodities in 2019. That was nearly double Iowa’s $28 billion in farm sales.

The global pandemic should have been a wake-up call that made it clear to Californians once and for all who is buttering their bread — after making both the butter and the bread.

In the California economy — which accounts for a whopping 15 percent of the total U.S. economy — the “essential worker” is often an undocumented person. When a terrifying version of “food insecurity” hit the state (and the country) and faced empty supermarket shelves, it was undocumented farm workers who came to the rescue.

And given all that, even in the state’s wealthiest agricultural county—my native Fresno County—you still have ignorant people calling conservative radio programs to complain about how “illegals” are draining the state.

That makes no sense!

To recap, California — which is fat and happy, thanks in large part to its over-reliance on undocumented workers — is now going to ensure that these people who go to work every day for jobs that American citizens won’t touch with a 10 -shovel, rake or hoe have basic insurance.

Migrant farm workers have their temperatures checked and questions about their health before they board the bus for duty at the company’s living quarters in King City, California.

Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images

To this I say, “Good. It’s about damn time. This is the decent thing to do, and it’s the least we can do.” Anyone whining and nagging about this “giveaway” should just say “gracias” and move on. Or they could go out into the fields on a summer’s day and watch how they fare with one of these ‘stolen’ jobs. There are paramedics on hand.

My inner conflict has been resolved. Honesty and common sense got me through it. In the end, the only moral thing you can do is the sensible thing to do. In our society, undocumented migrants are among the most vulnerable.

We must take care of them, because they take care of us. It really is that simple.



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