California Built a Safety Net for Millions of Undocumented Residents. Here’s How it Happened

Isabel Coronel, 76, walked in a hospital for the first time in almost 30 years last month. Coronel, an undocumented immigrant, had spent decades laboring in Inland Empire fields, picking watermelon, cilantro and radishes. She didn’t have health insurance and feared deportation if she tried to access medical care. She endured high cholesterol and blood pressure, severe knee pain, vision loss and the long-term effects of her January bout with COVID-19 rather than risk a hospital visit.

Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!

That changed on May 1, when Coronel became eligible for Medi-Cal. She was among 235,000 undocumented adults who gained access to the state’s income-based health insurance network through a new expansion of the program signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year. “I give thanks to God that I now have my Medi-Cal because I didn’t go to the doctor before,” Coronel said in Spanish. “Many of us need to go to the doctors and we don’t because we don’t have the ways to do so and we have fear of everything.”

Her access to health care follows a decade-long campaign in California’s Capitol to build a social safety net for the state’s roughly 2.3 million undocumented immigrants, an effort that culminated last month when Newsom signed a budget bill extending Medi-Cal access to all remaining uncovered adults. The milestones include driver’s licenses, protections from deportation, tax breaks, COVID-19 pandemic relief and now health care. It’s the strongest social safety net for undocumented immigrants in the country, advocates say. Undocumented immigrants “don’t get out of the system, what they put into the system so I hope this serves as an example to the rest of the country,” said Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles. “We’re in the forefront of policies to treat the undocumented as real Americans, real Californians because they contribute so much.”

The immigrant-friendly policies come at a time when other states are trying to push away undocumented residents. In Texas, leaders are empowering state authorities to return migrants to the border. And last month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation that requires law enforcement agencies in the state to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to crack down on immigration. California’s expansion of social programs resulted from multiple factors, such as organizing by pro-immigrant advocacy groups who played a long-game in advancing policies during former Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration that Newsom later signed into law and the power a generation of Latino leaders accumulated in the Capitol just two decades after the state’s Republican leaders tried to prohibit any government spending on undocumented immigrants.

Click here to read the full article in the Sacramento Bee


  1. Linda Diehl says

    Ask an elderly American citizen who paid taxes into the US and California tax rolls since 1974 how THEY feel about it! Especially since many of those SAME elderly make too much in their EARNED Social Security benefits to qualify for Medi-Cal! Yes, many old folks who’ve lived worked and paid taxes here their WHOLE LIVES can’t get fancy MediCAL — and yes, it IS fancy!! — because they make tooo much $20 over poverty to quality for MediCAL!

    Trust me, we old people are NOT happy about this! (I know we’re a niche, but we followed the LAW and we we WORKED and we PAID!! We didn’t just WHINE, ASK and TAKE!) We did the
    RIGHT thing and followed the LAW!

    Just saying……

    • Tammy Dennis says

      I agree, my mother worked her ass aff for 60 years and gets shit on. Yup, 20 bucks too much.

    • DITTO

    • Exactly. All these years of being responsible get me paying for the irresponsible! I have to bite my tongue around my grand kids to keep from telling them to go take whatever the hell they want and make other people pay for it.

      BTW they are ILLEGAL ALIENS not undocumented migrants! The press needs to start fixing this now!

  2. They are not undocumented immigrants but illegal aliens. Stop the politically correct bs.

  3. So whatever happened to taking care of American citizens?? We have vets that signed a blank check with their life’s. And they are homeless. WTH??

  4. concerned says

    I agree with al the above. How can we correct these injustices? Let’s put our thoughts and energy into correcting problems and accomplishing solutions…

    Just saying…..

  5. BS on illegals afraid of deportation! Sounds like a activist wrote this, the clinic system has provided free health care for years. Now Just more customers for the most entitled work force in America California public employees and yes I and a recent retiree supporting our massive state bureaucracy hurt’s did I mention the most entitled people the California public employee.

  6. You are ALL missing the point! It is Pretty Boy Newscum who OK’ed this. But he is back in DC measuring the drapes in the Whiote House!

  7. Christian says

    She’s here for 30 years and still speaks in Spanish?

  8. Leo of Sacramento says

    I was on the talk show for Mark Williams of kfbk fame way back when. Funny, I made a statement back then that rings so very true today:

    ” There will come a time, when the biggest criminal in America, will be the American Citizen! Why? Because we dared to be born here. If you’re NOT a US Citizen, then you’ll get whatever it is that you need. ”

    Why did that woman not apply to become legal? If you wish to blame anyone besides the parties, then you’ll need to blame yourself. YOU vote. WE voted. How many voted Demo/Repub? Better yet, how many voted at all?? What HAVAE the parties done to address this issue? Especially the DEMO’s in California, who’ve been running the show for at least 20 sum years. Talk about ” slave owners “, pfffttttt. The very people you keep in the fields, now can’t even afford to buy the very product they pick! So, how’s that supposed to be working out for you?

    If America knew back then, what they know now, I doubt we would be having the ” slavery ” discussion of today. Just think, Confederate states with cheap down south labor! Cuts shipping costs and everything else. smh.

    Here’s a start to this problem:
    START voting! Start dumping incumbants! Stop making excuses if you’re not going to the ballet box!

    We have issues with gas prices because of Putin. We have 3.5 Unemployment numbers ( what they call, near full employment ), with a reported 11 MILLION JOBS unfilled! (really?) We should blame PUTIN on the illegal problem too! If you believe ANY of the crap that’s been reported as in the above, then there’s the problem.

  9. How about legally requiring that employers provide health coverage for the illegals they hire? Assuming they are getting cheaper labor than by hiring American citizens, they should be able to afford it.
    Our one party, over taxed, over regulated, far left socialist “sanctuary state” is being inundated by illiterate strangers that take years to come off the dole. At the rate of fed up productive businesses leaving the state we will soon be living in another Argentina. The good news is our pretty boy, empty suit governor is applying for an out of state job.

  10. This Newsom press release was written by a recent UC journalism graduate. Very poorly written one-sided narrative..

Speak Your Mind