Immigrants

Violet Ruth Bergen

While immigrant rights and sanctuary cities may be flash points right now in today’s political climate, it may be easy to forget that the San Joaquin Valley has a long history of opening its doors to immigrants as well as refugees fleeing struggles in their home countries. On Tuesday, April 4, Fresno State is hosting a symposium to educate students and the community about some of their newest neighbors: Syrian refugees.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

A prominent migrant rights activist from Mexico spoke at Fresno State on Monday with insight into why Latin Americans flee and what can be done about it.

Father Alejandro Solalinde is a Catholic Priest from Central Mexico. He’s known for his dogged advocacy for the rights of Latin American migrants, who commonly suffer harassment, abuse and rape on their journey to the United States. He runs a shelter in the state of Oaxaca for migrants and was exiled from the country for two years following death threats.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Most undocumented immigrants throughout the country aren’t eligible for Medicaid or Medi-Cal because of their immigration status. But in California there’s a little known provision that allows certain immigrants to obtain full-scope Medi-Cal benefits even if they aren’t here legally.

Until last December, if you were an undocumented resident in Fresno you could get health care through a county program known as MISP. That stopped when the county changed the rules and kicked at least 5,000 undocumented residents out of the program late last year.

Google Map

The Central Valley is now home to a new detention center for immigrants facing deportation. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports.  

Federal officials have already moved around 60 people into the new center in Bakersfield since its doors opened two weeks ago.

Virginia Kice, a spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, says the Mesa Verde Detention Facility will house up to 400 people.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

It’s been over three months since undocumented residents in Fresno County lost access to a program that provided specialty health care. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera explains, local health advocates rallied Tuesday to support its return.

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors was expected to vote on an agreement with a local company that would have restored at least some access to specialty care for undocumented residents. Instead the board postponed the discussion.

CA Department of Motor Vehicles

Thousands of California immigrants are taking advantage of the state’s new driver license law. According to new numbers released today, 46,200 undocumented immigrants have applied for driver licenses during the first three days since the law took effect on Friday.

The Department of Motor Vehicles revealed the following statistics:

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to sign three immigration reform bills into law is drawing praise from local immigration experts. 

Senate Bill 1159, introduced by Sen. Ricardo Lara and signed by Brown, will allow undocumented immigrants to apply for professional state licenses to work as doctors, nurses, dentists, and in other fields.

Jessica Smith-Bobadilla is the director of the New American Legal Clinic at San Joaquin College of Law.