California Sen. Ricardo Lara on the ‘Trump Effect’

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FRESNO, Calif. -- On the day the Health for All Kids law went into effect, state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, called California a “beacon of hope for immigrant communities and communities of color.”

Under the new law, all low-income children under age 19 -- whether documented or undocumented -- can enroll in Medi-Cal, California’s name for Medicaid.

Lara, who authored the bill, said he was excited this week when California Governor Jerry Brown upped funding for the Health for All Kids law from $137 million to $188 million per year in the state’s revised budget. That means another 15,000 kids, in addition to the estimated 170,000, could enroll in Medi-Cal.

California’s expansion of the rights of undocumented immigrants has stood in direct contrast to the anti-immigrant rhetoric at the national level, led by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Lara said the “tone” of some members of the Republican Party only serves to “exacerbate” the fears undocumented immigrants already have.

Those fears keep many of them from accessing public resources and services, including health care, because they worry that if they did that, it would be held against them should they ever apply for legal status.

But Lara reiterated that any information provided on state application forms is secure.

“We have the strongest protection language in our bills,” Lara said.

Still, he said, California is not immune from what is happening at the federal level.

“My biggest worry is that if Trump wins, we will have to roll back all the progress we have made,” said Lara.