Documentary explores undocumented immigrants' fight for health care in California

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A short documentary that follows the lives of people hoping to make health care access a right for all in California, regardless of immigration status, debuted in Sacramento Wednesday night at The Tower Theatre.

“COVER/AGE” was produced by the California Immigrant Policy Center.

“Tonight we are screening a short documentary that follows the lives of two protagonists who are directly impacted by that issue,” said CIPC Senior Policy Manager Sarah Dar.

The film follows two protagonists — Emma and Hector — both fighting for health care reform for undocumented Californians.

“I’ve been taking care of people and taking care of seniors and when it comes to health care, I don’t have any access to it,” Emma said.

Dar said her organization has been working for several years to expand health care access for immigrants in California.

“We are using this film to elevate the stories of leaders, like Emma, who is a home care worker but also an organizer in the immigrant health justice field,” said filmmaker Set Hernandez Rongkilyo.

In 2016, California expanded Medi-Cal to all low-income children, regardless of immigration status.

“Last year, we were able to expand Medi-Cal coverage to young adults, so ages 19 to 26,” said CIPC Director of Government Affairs Orville Thomas.

In his January budget, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed expanding medical coverage to seniors 65 and up, including those who may be undocumented like Emma.

The final budget is expected to be signed by Gov. Newsom in June.

“California is the leader on immigrants’ rights throughout the country and often serves as a model,” Thomas said.

Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, has been a major part of moving the medical expansion to include undocumented Californians.

“We’re really appreciative that the governor included in the budget funding for seniors,” she said.

While all at Wednesday’s screening were hoping the film brings awareness, they said they would continue their fight to provide health care for all.

“If there is one thing I’d love for people to take away from this film and all of our work, it’s getting a better understanding of who undocumented immigrants are in California,” Dar explained.

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