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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

California’s Democratic legislators want to extend health benefits to undocumented young adults, the continuation of an effort that ushered children without legal status into the state’s publicly funded health care system last year.

It is unclear when the program would start or how much the state would spend if the proposal, which could cost up to $85 million a year, is approved by Gov. Jerry Brown. Lawmakers are working out details ahead of their June 15 deadline for passing a new budget.

The plan would provide full-scope coverage for 19-to-26-year-olds who qualify for Medi-Cal, the state’s name for Medicaid. Currently, the federally funded program covers only emergency visits and prenatal care for undocumented residents. Under the proposal, revenue from taxes on tobacco products would absorb expenses for all other coverage.

Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens has been one of the strongest voices for expanded care. In 2015, he pushed for coverage for all adults. That proposal was changed to admit only undocumented children; it took effect last year. This year, he said in a recent video message to supporters, “We are going to make the final push to ensure we capture our young adults.”

Supporters’ ultimate goal is to include all undocumented adults, said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a health care consumer group backing the proposal.

“We believe without coverage, people are sicker, die younger and are one emergency away from financial ruin. It has consequences for their families and their communities—both health and financial consequences,” he said.

The plan would mean that undocumented children currently in the program would not age out at 19, putting low-income undocumented immigrants on par with those allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance under the Affordable Care Act (often called Obamacare) until they are 26.

Republican Sen. John Moorlach of Costa Mesa opposes an extension of benefits. One reason is financial: California doesn’t have “a balance sheet we can brag about,” he said, citing the state’s debt load, among other reasons.

Secondly, he disapproves of illegal immigration. Moorlach migrated to the U.S. legally as a child with his family from the Netherlands.

“I’m kind of offended that we feel an obligation to pay for expenses for those who did not come through the front door,” he said. “I certainly have compassion and want to help people in need, but I’m having difficulty, as a legal immigrant, because we are already in such bad fiscal shape.”

Advocates argue that undocumented immigrants help propel California’s economy with their labor and the taxes they pay, and that they cost the state money when they don’t work because of illness or when they end up in the emergency room.

“Health care is a right,” said Ronald Coleman, director of government affairs for the California Immigrant Policy Center, an advocacy organization and supporter of the proposal. “These are folks we are investing in through the California Dream Act and through other programs our state offers, and it makes sense to invest in our future, which our young adults will be.”

Estimates vary for how many people this expansion of Medi-Cal would serve and what the costs would be. Each house of the Legislature has passed its own version of the proposal, with differing figures attached.

The Assembly allocated $54 million a year to cover an unspecified number of additional enrollees, with a July 2017 start date. The Senate proposed $63.1 million in the first year, beginning in 2018, and $85 million annually thereafter, also without specific population numbers.

Coleman’s center, which is working closely with lawmakers on the issue, estimates about 80,000 new people would be eligible, and the cost would be around $54 million a year. That assumes the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program continues, because it provides access to Medi-Cal. If DACA were eliminated, the figures would increase to about 100,000 eligible people and about $84 million in annual costs, Coleman said.

The governor’s proposed budget does not include the proposed expansion or any money for it.

Kevin, a 19-year-old Angeleno who asked that only his first name be used, because he lives in California illegally, wants the proposal to succeed. He has been working for more than a year to distribute information about Medi-Cal children’s coverage to immigrant families.

He meets all but one of the requirements for DACA: He was not in the country before June 15, 2007. He arrived in the U.S. in 2011 at age 14 from Guatemala, on a visa that later expired. He graduated high school, has no criminal record and is now majoring in business administration at California State University, Los Angeles.

“There’s this misunderstanding that young people are healthy,” said Kevin, who suffers from eczema. He worries about the chronic condition flaring up. “When it gets worse, it doesn’t let me do anything with my hands.”

He is enrolled in a county health insurance program for low-income residents, but he can’t afford a dermatologist. He can barely pay for the prescription lotion he uses for the eczema, and sometimes goes without it.

“We are trying to have a better economic standard, and we are like the building blocks of this society,” he said. “Having health insurance will allow us to focus more on school and do our regular day-to-day activities. A healthier society works better for everyone.”

If lawmakers can now agree on details, a consensus proposal will go to the full Legislature for approval. The deadline for that is June 12.

CALmatters.org is a nonprofit journalism venture dedicated to exploring state policies and politics.

Published in Local Issues

Dear Mexican: I’m reading the redneck rhetoric in one of your recent columns, and I feel retarded to continually be surprised by the hate posing as nationalism that so easily flows from mouths of these degenerates. At least we don’t have to worry about that “nice” stereotype like the Canadians.

Isn’t it possible that no one wants to make taxpayers out of all the illegals, because this would entitle them to minimum wage? I agree that if you’re going to enjoy the benefits of this country, you should maintain your culture, but also become a legal American citizen—but can we afford to actually pay full price for the labor foundation that we currently enjoy at such a discount?

Dr. W

Dear Gabacho: Interesting punto! Gabachos don’t want undocumented Mexicans to become American citizens, because they’re Mexicans, and they really feel that once we become the majority, we’ll rip out their hearts, wrap them in bacon and serve them as a breakfast burrito. And they also want us to remain perpetual peons, even if making us legal brings more money to the American economy.

A 2013 paper by the Center for American Progress found that if undocumented immigrants were granted legal status and the possibility of citizenship that year, the United States’ gross domestic product “would grow by an additional $1.4 trillion cumulatively over the 10 years between 2013 and 2022.” Not only that, but analysts Robert Lynch and Patrick Oakford forecast the creation of 203,000 jobs per year in that time frame with amnesty. On the other hand, if said undocumenteds only got legal status in 2013, but weren’t eligible for citizenship for a decade, the GDP would grow by a relatively modest $832 billion.

That’s more of an economic stimulus package than Trump could ever possibly conjure up—but since gabachos hate truth nowadays, the prospect of amnesty long ago went the way of the Paris climate accords.

Dear Mexican: I’ve been to a number of Mexican-sponsored events that include the typical banda, those bands with 40 members and every instrument known to man. My question is: Why do those grupos bring such enormous speakers? For a party taking place in a backyard or a room that fits no more than 50, they’ll bring speakers large enough for a stadium.

And since we’re on the subject of bandas, why do they have so many friggin’ people in them anyway?

Split Eardrums, but Happy

Dear Gabacho: The more speakers any Mexican band use, the angrier gabachos will get. This isn’t rocket science, pendejo.

Dear Mexican: Why is it that if you call anybody from Latin America who’s not from Mexico a Mexican, they get mad? But everybody from Latin America calls any white person a gringo, no matter if they are Canadian, English, German, French, etc.

It seems to me that Latin Americans want to be called by their country of origin, but don’t give a crap about a white person’s country of origin. Would this be racism or prejudice?

Gringo Greg

Dear Gabacho: Because a “gringo” is technically a white foreigner regardless of country. Besides, spare me: You gabachos call us “illegals” even if our families have lived in Aztlán since your ancestors were dying of the Black Death.

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: Tell me one thing Mexico is good for.

MAGA Man

Dear Gabacho: Paying more taxes than Donald Trump. Read on …

Dear Mexican: The other weekend, I met a Mexican girl at bar. Hoping to score some points, I pretended that I, too, was Mexican. Between my nondescript ethnicity (Eastern European and Vietnamese … chabacho, perhaps?), my command of Spanish, and some carefully timed quotes from Blood In, Blood Out, I managed to pull it off … con mucho éxito.

It got me thinking: Do Mexicans ever pretend to be other ethnicities? Do light-skinned jaliscienses ever go undercover as gabachos? Do Mexicans sometimes set aside their orgullo to go the Lou Diamond Phillips route? I’m dying to know.

Carlos Chan

Dear Chinito: All the time! When Mexicans hang out with Middle Eastern folks, we like to boast that we have an uncle who looks just like Saddam Hussein; when we’re with Jews, we say that our grandmother observed weird rituals, like lighting candles on Friday and never preparing pork. The lighter-skinned among us continually claim that we had a Frenchman in our family tree who decided to stay in Mexico after the Hapsburg occupation; Xicanxs with full beards will attend Native American powwows and boast they’re a direct descendant of the last honest tlatoani of Tenochtitlán.

That’s the thing about Mexicans: We’re everything … except Salvadoran.

Dear Mexican: I teach a volunteer class to kids in the ’hood, most of them Latinos (many of them Mexican). I like the kids a lot—but how can I justify teaching kids who may be illegals over kids who are legal? Shouldn’t I cater to kids whose parents have been paying taxes for years? Shouldn’t we “take care of our own” first?

Gabacho’s Moral Dilemna

Dear Gabacho: Since you’re volunteering your time, you have every right to be a pendejo in your private life. But refry the following frijoles: Primeramente, the Supreme Court’s 1982 decision in Plyler v. Doe found it unconstitutional to deny public education to undocumented kiddies, so if you’re doing this via a school, you’d better keep your bigoted views to yourself, lest you get a lawsuit.

Also, don’t forget that “illegals” pay un chingo of taxes; a report released this year by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found undocumented immigrants pay about $12 billion in state and local taxes despite their lack of legal status. “Undocumented immigrants’ nationwide average effective tax rate is an estimated 8 percent,” the report said. “To put this in perspective, the top 1 percent of taxpayers pay an average nationwide effective tax rate of just 5.4 percent.” That’s probably more than Donald Trump!

Finally, study after study shows that those illegal kids are more driven and smarter than “legal” kids. Besides, these are children we’re talking about; hating on kids trying to get ahead in life is all we need to know about our modern, paranoid 21st-century ’Murica.

With morals like yours, the U.S. deserves our future Chinese overlords sooner rather than later.

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: My beloved mojado has crossed back over the border into his native Mexico. Family emergency.

He seems to think it’s going to be a cinch when he comes back. The desert, pumas, mountains, electric fences, people trying to rob and shoot you, being short on cash … where’s the difficulty, right? I know it seems like only a scared, privileged bolilla would have a problem with this, considering how many people come here that way every day, but I keep reading all this scary stuff about how many people die trying to come here.

If a Mexican gets a passport to enter, can he start the process of becoming legitimate once he’s here? I’ve tried doing research, but my Spanish isn’t that good. What are his best options for getting back, illegally or legally. Car trunk? Swimming the Rio Grande? My main concern is getting him back safely. Just please don’t say marriage—aunque es guapísimo y tiene un corazón de oro—probably one day, just not yet.

Please help me, Mexican. Extraño mi novio gordo y sexi!

Lonely in Lancaster

Dear Gabacha: Yeah, at one time, a Mexican could just pay a penny at the border and cross over—that’s how my grandfather did it in 1918. Or pay a hippie chick from Huntington Beach $50 to stuff him in a trunk of a Chevy (pronounced “Chevy, not “Shevy”) as she crossed into San Ysidro, as my papi did it in 1968.

The days of easy crossings are long gone, and now usually a miserable mess. The easiest way to get your beloved fat boy back? Vote Democrat in 2016—you can look it up!

Dear Mexican: I’m a native Alabamian who has immigrated illegally to Georgia. I was wondering: Why there is such a large Mexican and Guatemalan population in both of these states? I thought there were a lot in Alabama until I crossed the border into Georgia!

Chica Guadalupe del Taxi

Dear Gabacha: The 2010 census showed that Alabama had the second-largest percentage growth of Latinos (read: Mexicans) of any state in the country, with the other Top 5 states also in the South. There are so many Mexicans in Alabama that I know young raza who argue about Alabama vs. Auburn the way Mexicans in Southern California babble about Chivas vs. América!

I can’t answer for the Guatemalans, but the Mexican angle is easy: jobs, and gabachos willing to hire Mexicans even if they’re undocumented. Interestingly enough, all these states are also expected to go for Donald Trump during the presidential election—so is the pendejo going to build a wall around the South, too?

P.S.: The South is also the place where many a farmer has openly stated that Americans will not pick crops, no matter how much they’re paid—you can look it up!

Dear Mexican: In the not-so-distant future when the Mexicans are running the entire show, what will they do with our lame-ass “public assistance” programs—where people get checks for sitting on their asses, having more kids in fatherless homes, expecting food stamps for watching TV, subsidized housing that they treat like shit, etc.?

I See It, I’m Sick of It, and I’m Really Sick of Paying for It

Dear Gabacho: Absolutely. We’re definitely going to target the número one abuser of the welfare system: gabachos living in red states, ’cause illegals aren’t eligible for welfare. You can look it up!

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I know an 18-year-old who is getting deported from the United States. He has been here since he was 5 years old. His entire family is here and undocumented. He grew up in juvenile halls and committed a felony as soon as he turned 18. Will he be deported for sure, or will the immigration judge give him a break since his entire family is here?

Deportations Are for Dummies

Dear Gabacho: Alas, homeboy is probably going, going adiós.

The Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allows undocumented youngsters a two-year stay of deportation (subject to renewal) until Congress gets its amnesty act together, specifically states that candidates aren’t eligible if they’ve “been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and … pose a threat to national security or public safety.”

While I don't know the circumstances of the guy you’re talking about, it doesn’t seem he stands a chance for judicial mercy or to become a cause célèbre for DREAMers across the country. That said, if all the charges were bullshit, and the legal system has royally screwed the kid, get in contact with your local DREAMer movement, as their courage in fighting for the damned has been far more impressive than what Latino politicians have shown. And do it fast: The Obama administration deports Mexicans as quickly as California’s reservoirs are drying up.

My wife (who is Mexican) is a tough nut psychologically to figure out, so I am turning to the expert for some desperately needed insight. Essentially, when we began dating, all was right as rain. She was sweet, kind, considerate and extremely attentive. Now, what I call “brown outs” occur. She will fly off the handle at the drop of a hat, throw things and say awful nasty things—basically, she turns into a she-devil. Furthermore, the jealousy (although seemingly dormant for the moment) is always there. I think it would drive her loca if I ever left my garage and had a beer at the cantina again.

We love each other very much, so I guess you could say our marriage is anything but dull. Is this typical with Mexican women? ¡Ayúdame!

Lobo Blanco

Dear Gabacho: The traditional explanation was that it was all about sangre: The blood of the Moors, Spaniards, Gypsies and Aztecs coursing through a mujer’s veins resulted in a quartet of locura that was simultaneously alluring and dangerous. (Just refer to the Agustín Lara canon, specifically “Granada,” for further detail.) On second thought, that’s just bigoted heteronormative misogyny … so let’s just chalk it up to the fact that Mexican woman are crazy because they’re women, m’kay?

I have no pride in being Mexican American. I’m not that insecure! It’s pathetic that people take pride in something they had no control over! I take pride in my personal accomplishments and my behavior and things that I control, the decisions I make amd the goals I reach. Grow up.

Proud to Be Me

Dear Wab: Congratulations on becoming the first Mexican acolyte of Ayn Rand!

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: How do we humanize the illegals in this country? My reasons for asking this question are many, including a very personal one.

I’ve been in this country illegally for 16 years, y ya chole no? For 16 years, I lived my life like anyone else—going to school and working. Eventually, I became a teacher for the public schools. It is too long to explain how I did all this. I knew it would come to an end at some point—as the gringos say, the shit would hit the fan eventually. Well, it has, and now I am a nanny to my best friend’s kid. We were talking one day and decided that if anything were to happen—if I was arrested or in trouble for some reason—she could be judged as a bad mother for leaving her child with a criminal such as myself. You, see I am no criminal. I’ve never done anything wrong. I was brought here when I was 14 years old, so I had no choice. The only wrong I’ve done is run across with the rest of mi gente; the only difference is that I didn’t know why I had to do it. I was only obeying my family.

So how do we share this with the rest of the world so that they see that us mojados are people with feelings, families, friends, schooling, hobbies, ideas and ambitions? We’re only missing a few papers along the way.

Tu Paisa Jarocha

Dear Chica From Veracruz: Easy—by telling your story and that of people like ustedes to the rest of America until you’re azul in the face. By calling your politicians from your local school board members to Barack Obama. And, finally, by telling everyone to no longer refer to undocumented folks as “illegals”—unless it’s a satirist with a point, of course!

You’ve poked fun at the guardians of Cervantes before, so I had to write to you now that I’ve finished reading the Walter Starkie translation of Don Quixote. Since I had very little trouble understanding it, I’m guessing that Starkie modernized the Spanish in addition to translating it.

Have you read Don Quixote in the original Spanish, by chance? If so, would you say that the Renaissance-era Spanish is as difficult for Spanish speakers as Shakespeare is for English speakers? Also, is Cervantes required reading for Mexican high school kids as Shakespeare is for kids in the U.S.? (I imagine it is for kids in Spain.)

Gabacha Que Lee

Dear Gabacha: Cervantes in the original español is a chingadera to read, what with all those damn medial s locuras and forays into Old Castilian when the Man of the Mancha speaks—but it’s far more palatable than reading a bunch of “anons,” you know?

Starkie’s translation is fine, but más mejor is Edith Grossman’s version. And, finalmente, Don Quixote is not required reading for Mexi prepa kids,—but Condorito sure is.

I understand that gabachos complain about all the wabs sneaking across the border and taking jobs from gabachos, and that Mexicans complain about all the Guatamalans sneaking across their border and taking jobs from Mexicans. Who do the Guatamalans complain about, or are they at the bottom?

Living in Brasil but Like Watching America. But Unlike Mexico and America, Looking Forward to Our Copa do Mundo.

Dear Carioca: Death squads.

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: With the current state and federal prison system (especially here in California) spitting out even harder criminals due to overcrowding; and gang activity allowed to a certain degree by the “system”; why are some legislators, government officials and American citizens stating that illegal immigration can be fixed by sending many undocumented immigrants to prison?

Our prison system, I think, would create more criminally minded individuals … and, if not, expose immigrants looking for a better opportunity in life to the savage nature of living behind bars.

I don’t know if there will ever be a law passed that would provide such punishment to those crossing the border, but with this ever-growing Middle East war using up a very high percentage of United States resources that could be used for domestic issues, I feel that if the citizens of the United States ever vote in the “wrong” presidential candidate, our new president will be pressured to pass a law that would only lead to immigrants of all nationalities having an even more negative stigma. We can sit here and discuss facts and charts and percentages of those who are in prison, and if there are more white people in jail compared to Mexicansm blah blah blah … but what do we need to do to avoid such a scenario from occurring?

Worried for Wabs

Dear Gabacho: Methinks you had a bit too much of the pruno before typing this letter, but I follow you: You’re saying that it’s wrong for politicians to enact draconian laws that imprison undocumented folks, and that we should elect a president who wouldn’t support such measures.

Problem is, American voters went for the “right” presidential choice with Barack Obama these past two elections, and look at the results: More deportations have occurred under his administration (about 400,000 people a year) than there ever were in the era of Dubya (who, for his many, many faults and sins, at least had the right ideas about Mexis, given his sister-in-law is one). Mitt Romney, of course, was a far-worse choice, what with him stealing the satiric idea of legendary cartoonista Lalo Alcaraz that illegal immigrants “self-deport”—but Obama is bad, and the escalating protests against him by the left (witness the seven DREAMers who recently chained themselves to the White House fence) are not only a welcome development, but absolutely vital.

Do Mexicans use cream of mushroom soup, or is that a gringo/Campbell’s ploy to get white people to eat Mexican food?

I grew up with parents from Kansas, and we lived in New Mexico in late 1960s and early ’70s. Being from the casserole generation, cream of mushroom soup was a staple of all casseroles, and my mom did not have the love for true green chile. The family chicken enchilada recipe called for cream of mushroom soup and Velveeta cheese. I loved it growing up, but now that I am older and beyond nostalgia, the enchiladas taste like shit, so I am working on a new family recipe. The process of formulating a new recipe has me wondering if cream of mushroom soup is used by those of Hispanic descent at all, or is it just a post-Depression white person’s abomination?

One Royal Vomit

Dear Gabacho: Don’t forget that a lot of Mexicans came of age in the same era as you, so while cream of mushroom isn’t exactly a Mexican pantry staple like, say, Tapatío, it’s not unheard of.

Mexican food is chameleonic and adapts to what’s available, ensuring its brilliance. For instance? My mami’s magnificent buñuelos—giant fried disks of cinnamon-sugar goodness—are made not with flour tortillas or even masa, but … rice paper that chinitos use for their spring rolls. Somewhere, Rick Bayless se cago his pants … and that’s a good thing!

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Published in Ask a Mexican