January 18, 2024
Our leaders’ decisions about where to allocate resources demonstrate their values and principles. Last week, when Gov. Gavin Newsom released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2024-2025, he affirmed that providing Medi-Cal to all Californians, regardless of immigration status, remains a decisive priority for his administration. The California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) commends the governor for upholding his promise to communities that have waited far too long to access health care.
We are also pleased to see that Gov. Newsom’s budget generally maintains other commitments as well, largely avoiding cuts despite an anticipated $38 billion budget deficit. But much more is needed to address inequities that prevail in California, the 5th largest economy in the world and home to immense corporate and individual wealth. Many Californians continue to be shut out from economic and civic opportunity, including immigrant Californians who remain excluded from legal representation and some of our most basic support systems.
Our representatives must use every available tool to deliver on their pledge to make “California for all,” such as asking the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share. Together, we must ensure leaders don’t lose sight of our shared values in the face of revenue swings, corporate interests, and the cynical politics of highly charged elections.
This year, CIPC will advocate for budget investments to fix some of the biggest problems facing immigrant Californians today: lack of universal representation to help navigate an immigration system that separates families, harmful exclusions that leave our communities hungry and sick, and persistent inequality that fractures our state.
Read below to learn more about our budget priorities as well as our full analysis of how the governor’s budget proposal would impact immigrant communities.
Immigration Legal Services:
If implemented, Gov. Newsom’s proposed fiscal year 2024-25 budget would cut immigration legal services funding by $15.2 million for people applying for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and for students, parents, and families at California State universities. The budget proposal maintains $45 million for the One California program, which provides critical legal, education, and outreach services that help people access benefits and immigration relief.
However, immigrant Californians who have had past contact with the criminal legal system are denied these services and forced to represent themselves in immigration court against trained ICE attorneys. This year, CIPC, alongside the Rep4All coalition and One California coalition, will advocate to expand immigration legal services funding and access to legal representation for all Californians who are seeking legal services.
The governor’s proposed budget anticipates difficult financial conditions, economic uncertainty, and a continued climate crisis, which could threaten the jobs of Californians in high-risk industries and communities. Immigrant workers could be among the most impacted by these conditions and would likely struggle the most if they lose their jobs, because they continue to be excluded from unemployment insurance, despite the fact that taxes on their labor contribute over $300 million to the system every year. Lawmakers mustn’t let an immigrant family’s missed paycheck spiral into missed rent, missed meals, and missed healthcare, especially in such a volatile climate and economy.
CIPC and the Safety Net for All coalition are continuing to advocate for an Excluded Workers Program, which would provide assistance to workers who are excluded from unemployment insurance due to their immigration status and who lose their jobs. An Excluded Workers Program would help create fairness and equity for immigrant families, so that all Californians can thrive.
Gov. Newsom’s proposed budget would maintain commitments made in previous budgets to expand CalFresh to all income-eligible Californians ages 55 and older, regardless of immigration status, through the state-funded California Food Assistance Program. This historic expansion of food benefits will be implemented on Oct. 1, 2025. However, without further action, CalFresh will continue to exclude Californians ages 54 and below due to their immigration status.
The Food4All coalition will continue to advocate for CalFresh access for all. Nearly half (45 percent) of undocumented Californians and two out of three undocumented children are affected by food insecurity, according to recent data from UCLA’s California Health Interview Survey. No one should be excluded from food assistance, because all Californians benefit when everyone can afford to put food on the table. For more information about Food4All and ways to get involved in the campaign, visit our website here!
After a decade of organizing and advocacy by CIPC and the Health4All coalition, California has become the first state in the country to offer Medicaid (called Medi-Cal in California) to all low-income residents, regardless of immigration status. We are pleased that the governor reaffirmed his commitment to this policy in his budget proposal by including $2.9 billion from the state’s general fund in fiscal year 2024-25.
To inform community members about the Medi-Cal expansion and how to enroll, we have compiled a Resource Roundup with informational materials developed by partners and agencies in different languages. Please share these widely!
While we celebrate this milestone, we are concerned that more than a half million Californians remain excluded from the Covered California health insurance marketplace due to their immigration status. CIPC will continue our efforts to remove immigration status as a barrier to health care by advancing Assembly Bill 4 (Arambula) and an accompanying budget request.
Additional Details of the Governor’s Budget Proposal:
If you’re interested in learning more about our Health4All work, please contact Policy Analyst Carlos Alarcón at firstname.lastname@example.org. For other health issues, contact Policy Director Sarah Dar at email@example.com.
If you’re interested in learning more about our Food4All and anti-hunger/nutrition work, contact Policy Manager Benyamin Chao at firstname.lastname@example.org. For other human services issues, contact Policy Director Sarah Dar at email@example.com.
If you’re interested in learning more about our workforce development work, please contact Economic Justice Policy Analyst Edgar Ortiz at firstname.lastname@example.org. For our workers’ rights and SafetyNet4All work, contact Economic Justice Policy Analyst Daniela Alvarenga at email@example.com.
Detention & Deportation
California has a long way to go to sufficiently address historically racist policies criminalizing Californians who are immigrants and people of color. We cannot continue to waste state funding on carceral systems that separate families and destabilize communities. CIPC will continue to work to reduce the powers of the policing and the prison system and reinvesting state funds for social programs that keep communities together and safe.
If you’re interested in learning more about our work to divest from detention, deportation, and incarceration and invest in access to immigration legal services, contact Policy Manager Bruno Huizar at firstname.lastname@example.org.