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POLICY UPDATE

CIPC POLICY PRIORITIES - 2014

California is home to the largest population of immigrants – both documented and undocumented - in the United States. Millions of immigrants from across the globe play a vital role in the Golden State’s economic, civic, and cultural life.

Last year, California set a national model for inclusive, forward-thinking policies by enacting measures to limit deportations, provide licenses to all Californians, protect worker rights, and more.

To continue to build a prosperous future for all, the state must continue to champion inclusive policies. Moreover, Washington, DC must follow California’s example – beginning with the President immediately halting deportations and providing relief to immigrant communities who have suffered far too long from unfair policies.

Thus, the California Immigrant Policy Center is pleased to share this state policy agenda, which presents crucial legislative and administrative advocacy the organization is leading or co-leading.

To learn more please visit www.caimmigrant.org


BUILDING A HEALTHIER CALIFORNIA

SB 1005 (Lara) – Health for All Act – Sponsored by the Office of Senator Ricardo Lara

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) unfairly and discriminatorily excluded undocumented immigrants from insurance coverage provided through Medi-Cal and through Covered California, the health benefits exchange. Recent estimates indicate that 3-4 million Californians will be uninsured after full implementation of the ACA. Most of these individuals are eligible for coverage through the exchange, Medi-Cal, or other insurance, but are not enrolled. However, over 1 million Californians will be uninsured and not eligible for coverage due to immigration status. SB 1005 will expand access to health care coverage for all Californians, regardless of immigration status, by expanding California’s state funded Medi-Cal program and by creating a parallel exchange that would allow the undocumented and those with deferred action to buy affordable coverage with state subsidies.

AB 2345 (Gonzalez) – Sponsored by CIPC, California Partnership, and the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California

This bill will extend crucial pathways to opportunity for California families who are currently fighting economic pain.

California has the highest poverty rate in the nation at 23.8%, once adjusted to include cost of living and other factors. Additionally, low-income working families were harmed disproportionally by the recent recession and have not been able to recover fully.  CalWORKs, a temporary cash aid and job-related services program, and CFAP, a nutritional assistance program for individuals, help many California families overcome serious economic challenges.

But current law excludes several categories of even “lawfully present” immigrants from these important services, including recipients of Deferred Action (including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and longtime residents who are in the process of securing lawful permanent residence. AB 2345 would extend these services to all otherwise eligible, lawfully present immigrants.


PROTECTING CIVIL RIGHTS FOR ALL

AB 1876 (Quirk) – Sponsored by Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), CIPC, Friends Committee on Legislation of California, and Ella Baker Center

For many Californians in county jails, phone calls are the only way to stay connected with their families, loved ones, and attorneys. Such communication is integral to the basic right to due process, as it is vital for Californians facing court or immigration proceedings to consult regularly with their legal representation as the process advances. Moreover, for those with convictions, regular contact with loved ones is vital to successful rehabilitation and reentry.

But astronomical phone rates risk cutting off the vital lifeline which calls provide to detained Californians who are awaiting trial or immigration proceedings or who are on the path to rehabilitation.  State law already protects against the practice of these astronomical commission payments in the state's prison facilities. AB 1876 will apply the same common-sense standards to county jails, ensuring that all people in detention have an affordable means to communicate with their loved ones and lawyers.


BUDGET ADVOCACY

As California turns away from the painful cuts of budgets past, this year’s budget process represents a golden opportunity to invest in families, communities, and our state's future. Years of drastic cuts require a more drastic re-investment in our state's families, who are still fighting to recover from years of economic pain. Given the state’s surplus, we urge the Governor to make investments in: (1) key safety net programs like CalWORKs, the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants, and the California Food Assistance Program, (2) funding for equitable access to health care for all Californians, (3) funding to support seamless implementation of AB 60, and (4) refunding the naturalization services program with at least 10 million dollars to help eligible immigrants become citizens. We will work closely with community, legislative partners, and the administration to ensure the most just and inclusive budget possible.

IMPLEMENTING LAST YEAR’S VICTORIES

TRUST Act – Implementation of AB 4 (Ammiano)

After a three-year community campaign, California’s TRUST Act (AB 4 - Ammiano) went into effect on January 1, 2014. The TRUST Act sets a minimum standard across the state to limit cruel and costly immigration "hold" requests in local jails. These optional holds have trapped undocumented residents– and even citizens –for extra time, at local expense, just because ICE thinks it can deport them.

Across the state, community leaders and advocates are working hard to educate all Californians about the new law and ensure its full and forceful implementation. Many groups are also seeking to expand upon the law's protections in their local communities.

Driver’s Licenses - Implementation of AB 60 (Alejo)

For nearly twenty years, community members, advocates, and allies fought for access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.  AB 60 (Alejo) will ensure that all Californians are able to apply for a driver’s license regardless of their immigration status. AB 60 directs the Department of Motor Vehicles to draft regulations pertaining to how these new licenses program will be implemented. CIPC is working with community partners, allies, and the Department of Motor Vehicles to ensure that the regulations include the following: (1) a wide range of documents that reflect immigrant community members' diverse experiences to prove identity and residency; (2) additional privacy and confidentiality protections around information provided to the DMV; (3) appropriate accommodations for applicants who are Limited English Proficient; and (4) strong anti-discrimination language to mitigate potential consequences related to the distinguishing marks on the front and the back of the license that were included to satisfy the requirements of the federal REAL ID Act of 2005. Licenses are expected to be issued no later than January 1, 2015.

In addition to these legislative proposals and priorities for administrative advocacy, CIPC is actively supporting a number of other proposed legislation to protect immigrants and their families.

For more information, email Ronald Coleman at rcoleman@caimmigrant.org.

Final Note:  CIPC Steering Committee

The California Immigrant Policy Center 2014 Policy Agenda was developed and agreed upon by CIPC’s Steering Committee comprised of 11 organizational members, representing coalitions of immigrant communities across the state including, the Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles, Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, Communities for a New California, Council on American-Islamic Relations - California (CAIR), East Bay Interfaith Immigration Coalition/CLUE-CA, Justice For Immigrants Coalition of Inland Southern California, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, San Francisco Immigrant Education & Legal Network (SFILEN) and Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network (SIREN) in San Jose.


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