MAY 30, 2018
T he opposition to healthcare for the undocumented community is rooted in a dying approach to fiscal politics that no longer works as a panacea to describe morally decrepit state budgets. That approach is blaming the most marginalized for the misspending of the state budget, especially when it comes to enforcement and incarceration which disproportionately affects immigrant and communities of color.
Instead of allocating millions to deadly police enforcement and imprisonment, California should take steps towards investing in the mental wellbeing of the communities being policed and brutalized. Instead of thinking of creative ways to rise up as a state and support with access to mental health, the LA Times Editorial Board is following the federal government’s tactic of scapegoating immigrants for the economic and social woes of US citizens.
Many opponents to expanded healthcare, including the LA Times Editorial Board, argue that now is not the time to expand these services. When is the right time to enact policies rooted in dignity and protection of life? According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, part of the reason that California has a surplus to begin with is that undocumented workers contribute “collectively $3 billion combined in state and local taxes in the state of California.” Not to mention the almost invisible tax that occurs when undocumented laborers are not paid the minimum wage, and when they have no say in what is done with their contribution to the state.
Our healthcare system can only grow stronger when every Californian is involved because a universal interest in the program means more public investment in preserving what could be a model system for the rest of the country. Where creativity is due is in securing our budget so that it can assume coverage of all Californians in regards to health.
To blame the divestment from poor people on other poor people simply because they lack legal status is reminiscent of old divide and conquer tactics. Instead of trying to cut one marginalized group from health insurance for the sake of another, we must instead engage in creative ways to ensure all of Californians, despite legal status or social class, have access to a physical and mental wellbeing. It is unconscionable that one of the richest states in the country, and by comparison the world, is unwilling to secure the health of its population.
These conditions will persist. There’s never going to be a right time to spend more money. The Editorial Board pose their argument as if there will be an eventual time for it, but never propose when that time frame could be. However, historic policy never waits for ripe situations, they simply happen out of necessity to align with the moral demands of the people. Sweeping undocumented immigrants under the rug until the problem goes away is not a tangible strategy.
Expanding Medi-Cal is not a plea to solve the immigration problem. It is an urgent need to secure the health of the human beings that are essential to California. If these people were citizens, this would not even be a discussion. It is immoral to take undocumented tax money then turn around and deny them the basic services afforded to others who pay the same taxes as them.
The LAT is correct in arguing that the ultimate problem here is a broken immigration system. Why, then, do they choose to uphold the standards of oppression that uplift this broken system by siding against the most basic need of healthcare? Legal status should not be a qualification for survival.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Juan Prieto is the Communications Strategist with CIYJA and is based in Oakland, CA. Jose Servin is the Communications Coordinator with CIYJA and is based in Santa Ana, CA. Together they from CIYJA’s communications team.
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