Capitol Alert

‘Dreamers’ would receive more financial, legal help under new California plan


With the fate of federal protections for young undocumented “dreamers” uncertain, California lawmakers are poised to act this week on legislation that would provide an additional $30 million in college and legal help for immigrants brought into the country illegally as children.

Budget amendments unveiled late Monday seek to provide more legal assistance and stem potential financial losses for undocumented college students, should they lose the ability to work under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields undocumented immigrants from deportation and allows recipients to obtain temporary work permits. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and President Donald Trump announced plans last week to end the program, enacted by former President Barack Obama, in six months.

DACA recipients would not be able to work legally in the U.S. should Trump’s decision stand.

Under a proposal by Democratic leaders of the state Legislature, the dreamers would be able to apply for additional state financial aid to pay for housing, transportation, books and other living expenses while attending college.

“The new funding for DACA services we are adding to the budget young Californians stay in the only country they’ve ever known,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon in a statement. “Donald Trump may love chaos. These kids don’t deserve it.”

If passed, the proposal touted as critical by Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, would also bolster funding for legal services aimed at helping undocumented immigrants obtain citizenship.

“We will not let one man with xenophobic tendencies undercut years of progress we have made in California to integrate these young adults into our society and economy,” de León said in a statement. “California is their home and they are our future.”

The Legislature’s proposal comes amid a lawsuit filed Monday by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra against the Trump administration. Becerra, joined by the states of Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, argued in his complaint that repealing DACA would deal a significant blow to California’s economy. California is home to 220,000 of the nation’s 800,000 DACA recipients. The University of California filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration last week Friday, saying rescinding DACA would unconstitutionally violate the rights of the university system and its students.

University of California President Janet Napolitano on Tuesday issued a memo advising current DACA recipients that they are eligible to apply for a two-year renewal even if the program is phased out. Renewal applications are due by Oct. 5.

The companion bills to assist “Dreamers” – Assembly Bill 134 and Senate Bill 119 – are set to be taken up in budget committees this week. The Senate will hear the Assembly version this morning and the Assembly is expected to take up the Senate version Thursday. The $30 million would boost funding for existing state programs for undocumented immigrants – the so-called “One California” program and the California DREAM Act.

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BY THE NUMBERS: Under Obamacare, California has experienced the biggest drop – 9.8 percent – in uninsured people across the nation, according to 2016 U.S. Census Bureau figures released Tuesday.

By 2016, the number of people without insurance dropped to 2.8 million, down from 6.5 million uninsured in 2013.

California’s uninsured rate is 7.3 percent, down from 17.2 percent in 2013.

The figures come after months of failed Republican attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare, and amid new Democratic-led efforts to improve the system.

Among Democrats who have called for improvements are Rep. Ami Bera of Elk Grove, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Other Democrats, including Sen. Kamala Harris, have instead endorsed legislation from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders that would create a national single-payer health care system. Sanders is slated to announce his proposal today.

DISABILITY PLACARD ABUSE: California’s Department of Motor Vehicles issued 145 citations caught fraudulently using blue disability placards, according to data released this week.

The citations come after a state audit earlier this year recommended the DMV beef up its its efforts to prevent fraud and abuse, following a finding that thousands of placards were in use even though their original owners were dead.

Most of the August citations, which range from $250 to $1,000, were issued in Southern California. August citations were down from the 417 issued in April.

CELEBRATE: Happy birthday to Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Fremont, who turns 41 today.