House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Wednesday defended California’s decision to provide health care benefits and stimulus payments to illegal immigrants.
Pelosi also said that “everyone” in the country should be in its “health care loop.”
The state of California has been sued over its $75 million plan to financially assist illegal immigrants during the coronavirus pandemic. Some illegal immigrants in the state currently qualify for health care benefits.
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“It’s in everyone’s interest that everyone is in the health care loop,” Pelosi said during a conference call on the opposition to the Trump administration’s lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.
“It’s absolutely essential that we’re able to get benefits to everyone in our country when we’re testing when we’re tracing when we’re treating and the rest because, again, it’s in everyone’s interest,” she added.
Pelosi said the coronavirus pandemic has made access to ObamaCare’s benefits more essential than before. She also reiterated her support for offering federal stimulus assistance to illegal immigrants and non-citizens in the next coronavirus relief package.
“The United Farm Workers are picking the fruit and the food and the produce and the rest and they have conditions they’re working under that don’t measure up,” she said.
“So there are many things we’re going to try to do in this bill to help more people to be able to take advantage of what is there, health-wise, but also to participate in some of the benefits, financial benefits, that are there,” she added.
Becerra explained why he stands by California’s decision to offer taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal immigrants. He was asked about the constitutionality of offering benefits to individuals who lack legal immigration status.
“Most of these undocumented workers have actually been classified as essential workers and so it’s kind of tragic, I’d say ironic,… that so many of our essential workers are people are not getting services and benefits simply because of their status,” he replied. “It’s a sad part of our public policy.”
Becerra said Gov. Gavin Newsom, a fellow Democrat, is making sure that the services provided to “those who are undocumented are done according to the law, federal law or state law.”
“We’re confident that whatever we do in the state of California is legal,” he added.
Addressing the Trump administration’s ObamaCare lawsuit before the Supreme Court, Becerra said the law must be protected as the pandemic continues. The administration is arguing that Obamacare, in its current form, is unconstitutional after Congress repealed the law’s individual health care mandate tax penalty.
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Becerra, who served in the House until 2017, added that ObamaCare should be called “Pelosicare” given that it would not have been passed without Pelosi’s efforts as a speaker.
“The truth is, we could have, maybe we should have called the ACA ‘Pelosicare’ because quite honestly, but for Nancy Pelosi, we might not have reached this level and now we have to fight for it and fortunately we still have Speaker Pelosi fighting to defend the Affordable Care Act,” he said.