California Gives Free Healthcare to Illegal Immigrants
California Gives Free Healthcare to Illegal Immigrants

By Jamie Joseph

SACRAMENTO—California is now the only state in the U.S. to offer free healthcare to all low-income illegal immigrants after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a $307.9 billion budget June 30.

The allocation will give an estimated 764,000 people free healthcare coverage for $2.7 billion annually beginning 2024 under the budget provision’s expanding of the state’s Medi-Cal coverage.

“This is what being ‘pro-life’ ACTUALLY looks like,” Newsom wrote on Twitter Thursday.

Across the country, federal and state governments currently provide free healthcare to low-income residents through Medicaid, but it excludes illegal immigrants. Newsom’s provision will make California the only state to offer free healthcare regardless of citizenship status.

An estimated 92 percent of Californians have some form of healthcare, but that will change once the budget is in full swing and illegal immigrants—who make up the largest group of people in the state without healthcare—receive it under the expansion.

Various reports give different estimations of how many illegal immigrants live in the state, but according to Pew Research Center, there were roughly 2.2 million recorded in 2016. Despite not having legal status, these immigrants make up about 7 percent of the state’s workforce according to a 2020 report by the healthcare nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.

Hailed by immigrant advocates and proponents of universal healthcare, some critics worry that free healthcare will further incentivize illegal crossings at the Southern border at a time when deaths among those crossing are increasing.

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, told the Associated Press the expansion of Medi-Cal is “a magnet for those who are not legally authorized to enter the country.”

“I think many of us are very sympathetic to the immigrant community, but we really wish we had better control of who enters this nation and this state,” he said.

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