Studies: Exec Amnesty Will Strain CA Budget–Illegals Eligible for Medi-Cal, Cash Assistance

by Tony Lee
15 Feb 2015

Illegal immigrants who receive President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty will put a “costly strain” on California’s budget, according to studies from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the non-partisan group that advises state lawmakers on fiscal and policy issues.

Even the liberal San Francisco Chronicle editorial board had to concede that since current state law allows recipients of deferred action “to apply for certain government services in health and human services, that would mean a new and potentially costly strain on those programs as well.”

In a report released this week, the Legislative Analyst’s Office determined, as the Chronicle noted, that illegal immigrants who receive Obama’s executive amnesty would be eligible for “Medi-Cal, in-home health care services, and the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants,” which is a California program to give cash assistance to legal immigrants who are aged or disabled.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office’s analysis of the state health budget notes that Governor Jerry Brown’s (D) “budget does not include funding for potential costs related to the President’s executive actions on immigration.” And since any illegal immigrant claiming to have received temporary amnesty who applies for Medi-Cal will receive “full-scope MediCal during the application verification process,” Obama’s executive amnesty, the study concludes, will have a “highly uncertain impact” on the budget, especially since there are also no official estimates of the number of illegal immigrants in California who may qualify for Obama’s executive amnesty. Some unofficial estimates have put the number at one million.

According to analysis, “in cases where, after due diligence, counties are not able to verify [whether an applicant officially received temporary amnesty], the applicant’s benefits would be reduced to restricted–scope Medi–Cal benefits—provided to all undocumented individuals—which include emergency and pregnancy–related services.”

“The benefits received by undocumented immigrants through these programs are almost entirely funded by the state and would therefore result in additional General Fund costs of an unknown amount,” the study concludes. “The General Fund costs to provide state–funded benefits to this population are unknown at this time.”

At the federal level, illegal immigrants who receive Obama’s executive amnesty will be available for tax credits for the years in which they worked illegally, which IRS Commissioner John Koskinen confirmed at a Congressional hearing.

A majority of the states (26) have filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging Obama’s executive amnesty, arguing that they can do so because of the “hundreds of millions of dollars on health, education and law-enforcement programs” they will be forced to spend. The Obama administration has argued that the executive amnesty is beyond judicial review. Federal Judge Andrew Hanen heard the cast last month in Texas but has yet to issue a ruling.