California Governor Newsom’s Budget Expands Health Care Access for Undocumented Southeast Asian Americans

Sacramento, CA – On Jan. 10, California Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a $222 billion budget for fiscal year 2020-2021, increasing access to affordable health coverage and strengthening the behavioral health delivery system.
SEARAC applauds Gov. Newsom for his commitment to expanding health care access to all Californians. His budget allocates $80.5 million to expand Medi-Cal eligibility to undocumented Californians ages 65 years and older, covering approximately 27,000 additional enrollees from January 2021 to June 2021. With this inclusion, California will be the first state in the nation to provide full-scope Medi-Cal to eligible undocumented kids, young adults (up to the age of 26), and seniors (65 years and older).
There are at least 416,000 Asian Americans without legal status in California, constituting 15% of the state’s undocumented residents. The Refugee Act of 1980, which resettled more than 800,000 Southeast Asian refugees in the United States, formally closed its resettlement program in 1994, despite over 100,000 refugees awaiting resettlement. With limited options for resettlement as a result of our broken immigration system, Southeast Asians sought to resettle in the United States through family-based visas or overstayed tourist visas in pursuit of better living conditions.
Lucky Siphongsay, program manager at Fresno Interdenominational Refugees Ministries (FIRM), shares their organization’s experience working with the undocumented Southeast Asian American community in Fresno: “Many undocumented Southeast Asian Americans come to FIRM seeking advice about resources they can legally qualify from the state. … Many of them are women who’ve experienced domestic violence or abandonment during pregnancies.” As part of the #Health4all Campaign, SEARAC has worked tirelessly with the CA legislature and administration to improve access to health care regardless of immigration status for our most vulnerable Southeast Asian American community members.
SEARAC is committed to reducing health disparities and advancing health equity and looks forward to working with our partners and legislative leaders to improve health outcomes further for our community.
Elaine Sanchez Wilson
(202) 601-2970