Undocumented workers feed us. Whatever you think about immigration, you deserve health care.

Here’s the question I wrestle with: Should my home state of California provide subsidized health insurance for undocumented immigrants?

No need to get involved. The question is debatable. California will soon be the first state to offer universal access to health insurance.

The historic change was part of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s next budget allocation, which includes a plan to expand the state’s Medi-Cal program.

This program ensures that low-income residents have government-funded access to health care, and it already provides protection for undocumented immigrants under the age of 26 or over 50. But before that, the program left out people in the middle — who it’s safe to say represent the hardest-working, most productive age cohort.

Beginning January 1, 2024, Medi-Cal will be expanded to cover an additional 700,000 undocumented residents between the ages of 26 and 49. This change is expected to result in the largest drop in the number of uninsured Californians in a decade.

That’s a good thing, isn’t it? I wasn’t so sure at first, I had to clear the idea in my own head and more importantly, in my own heart.

For me, ensuring that all undocumented immigrants have health insurance from cradle to grave conflicts with two different aspects of my view of the world.

On the one hand, in the immigration debate—just like in debates about gun control or abortion or vaccines or anything else—I avoid the extremes and go for the middle. That means being willing to compromise, negotiate, and give up a little to get something back. You can’t overdo it, get greedy, or take too much. You have to be reasonable and reserved and avoid the politics that are supported by people on the radical fringes.

This part of me is suggesting this change isn’t a good idea. It feels like Newsom and the Democrats who run this state have given up seeking consensus and now they’re just rubbing Republicans in the face for whatever progressive thing they can.

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Why? Because they can. In a deep blue state where Democratic lawmakers can pass whatever they want without a single Republican vote, the party in power does it with devotion. And to borrow a word liberal media overused during former President Donald Trump’s administration, Democrats want to “normalize” the idea that people are in the United States illegally.

When someone crosses a country’s border or crosses a visa without permission, we shouldn’t be so keen on sweeping this under the rug. The only exceptions are the so-called dreamers who were brought here by their parents as children. We should always try to accommodate those who had no choice. But what the Democrats in California are doing now goes far beyond that. And in a way it’s unseemly.

Think of the gluttonous excesses of Texas Republicans when it comes to guns, abortion and LGBTQ rights. Things can get ugly and crazy fast when one side runs recklessly over the other, right?

Well, that’s exactly how California Republicans — the few that remain — feel about the legislative chicanery going on in the Golden State.

“The global pandemic should have been a wake-up call, making it clear to Californians once and for all who butters their bread — after they’ve made both the butter and the bread.”

However, there is another side to this story – and another part of me. This part is unconvinced at all by complaints that a bunch of hard-working, economically disadvantaged folks who can’t afford it get health insurance — and so they often just walk around going to work sick and making others sick — sort of “normalized.” “ unlawful activities.

That’s absurd. Do you know what is really normalizing illegal immigration? That California employers—starting with the typical household—can’t get enough of it and couldn’t do without it.

Californians, like most Americans, are addicted to cheap, reliable labor. Among the most dependent are homeowners in the US, who now depend on the “time pool” of undocumented workers for gardeners, housekeepers, nannies and elderly caregivers. (As well as farms, ranches, restaurants, hotels, resorts, and construction companies.)

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In California — which has the world’s fifth-largest economy with an annual gross national product (GSP) of $3.4 trillion — we’d have to invent it if we didn’t have undocumented immigrants to keep the wheels turning.

Fresh Harvest farm workers arrive early in the morning to begin harvesting in Greenfield, California. They practice social distancing and use masks, gloves, hairnets and aprons.

Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images

And yet, even in this gargantuan economy where the state government in California now has more money than it knows how to handle thanks to a $100 billion surplus, undocumented Californians make up the state’s largest group of uninsured, according to the University of California-Berkeley Laboratory Center.

And where did this surplus come from? Much of this does not come from individuals, but rather from corporations, firms and corporations doing business in California.

Let’s look at just one of those industries – one that would be completely paralyzed without undocumented workers (and that is under normal circumstances, not the labor shortages we are now seeing in the state): agriculture.

Roman Pinal of the United Farm Workers (UFW) hands out face masks and hand sanitizer to a farm worker picking lemons in an orchard in Ventura County, California.

Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Don’t cry for California farmers. When they’re not growing peaches, avocados, lettuce, and dozens of other crops, they’re printing money. According to the University of California-Davis Global Migration Center, California’s 70,000 farms sold $50 billion worth of agricultural commodities in 2019. That was almost double the $28 billion in farm sales in Iowa.

The global pandemic should have been a wake-up call, making it clear to Californians once and for all who butters their bread — after they’ve made both the butter and the bread.

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In the California economy — which accounts for up to 15 percent of the entire US economy — the “necessary worker” is very often an undocumented worker. When the state (and country) was struck by a terrifying version of “food insecurity” and faced with empty grocery shelves, it was undocumented farm workers who came to the rescue.

And in the face of all this, even in the wealthiest farming district in the state — my home county of Fresno — there are still unsuspecting people who call on conservative radio shows to complain about how “illegals” are drying up the state.

This is nonsense!

To recap, California — which is fat and happy thanks in large part to its over-reliance on undocumented workers — will now ensure that these people who work jobs every day don’t give US citizens a ten -Foot shovel, rake or hoe have basic health insurance.

Migrant farm workers are temperature checked and health questioned at the company’s living quarters in King City, California, before boarding the bus for their shift.

Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images

To that I say: “Good. It was about time. That’s the decent thing we can do, and it’s the least we can do. Anyone bitching and bitching about this “giveaway” should just say “Gracias” and go about their business. Or they can go into the fields on a summer’s day and see how they’re doing at one of those “stolen” jobs. We’ll have paramedics ready.

My inner conflict is resolved. Honesty and common sense got me through. In the end, what is only moral is also what is reasonable. In our society, undocumented people are among the most vulnerable.

We have to take care of them because they take care of us. It is really that easy.

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