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Immigration: Mid-City CAN eNews


Building Healthy Communities: City Heights
November 2011
Immigration status plays large role in health-care reform
New momentum team seeks better public transit
Come vote for Mid-City CAN Coordinating Council on Dec. 13
Mid-City CAN presents at American Public Health Association conference
Meet the Grantee: Employee Rights Center offers expertise about immigration
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Immigration status plays large role in health-care reform

The combination of the high number of immigrants in California and the Affordable Care Act is going to create a "rather complicated world," according to Richard Figueroa, director of health and human services at The California Endowment.


The Affordable Care Act - more commonly known as health-care reform - won't change much for undocumented immigrants and children.


"The very first piece is that the undocumented get nothing, unfortunately, other than things like greater access to community clinics," he said.


But even legal immigrants face barriers.


"The unauthorized  immigrant is in a different situation than the legal immigrant," he said. "And even the legal immigrant is different, depending on whether or not they have been here for five years."


Five years of residency is the beginning point for the federal expansion of  Medi-Cal in 2014, he said.


Another part of the legislation set to begin in 2014 is the California Health Benefits Exchange. It is designed to make it easier for individuals and business to compare insurance and buy coverage by creating a larger insurance market. However, undocumented immigrants seeking individual coverage won't be allowed to participate in the exchange, Figueroa said.


"Whatever volume discounts or other things that the exchange is able to bring to the marketplace, they can't even avail themselves of that," he said.


Figueroa said the documents required to access the exchange also creates a sensitive issue.


"All of our new eligibility and enrollment systems are going to have to be crafted very carefully for families of mixed immigration status: U.S. citizen, legal immigrant under five years, legal immigrant [over five years], and the undocumented," he said. "So this is a real challenge in terms of how we develop our enrollment systems to be sensitive to those issues within families."


Allowing people to access the exchange on behalf of other people also needs to be addressed, he said.


"For example an adult who may be undocumented could apply for [his or her] U.S. citizen child," he said.


New ITCH Momentum Team
better public transit

On Nov. 1 the Coordinating Council officially recognized Mid-City CAN's newest momentum team: Improving Transportation in City Heights, or ITCH.



ITCH team member Elyas Qabille said public transportation is a critical issue in City Heights.


"Public Transportation is important for immigrant and refugee communities to get to school, to work and to medical appointments," he said.

Nohelia Patel, staff liaison to the group and lead organizer at Mid-City CAN, worked with the residents who formed the team for several months.


She and the group had to determine how transportation fit into the mission of Mid-City CAN. They decided that public transportation had several implications for health and safety.


Patel gave one straight-forward example: "When children can't get on bus they miss school," she said.


And many residents don't feel safe on the street because of gang problems, she said, so public transportation provides a safer alternative to walking at night.


"Public transportation is also [a health issue], because it reduces number of vehicles on street and improves air quality," she said.


ITCH now has about 16 active members.


Recently Mid-City CAN staff, team members and other organizations asked the San Diego Community College District Board of Trustees to support a free bus pass for students and youth paid for by the San Diego Association of Governments. Board members agreed to write a letter supporting their request. [See video of the meeting here.]


Patel says that the group will push for more advocacy opportunities like these.


"The goal of this team is to improve transportation for City Heights by advocating for funding for youth bus passes and more emphasis on extending routes and hours," she said.

Elyas Qabille (left) and Ahmed Malinomar attended the first resident meeting of the group that became a new Mid-City CAN Momentum Team called Improving Transportation in City Heights.
Elyas Qabille (left) and Ahmed Malinomar attended the first resident meeting of the group that became a new Mid-City CAN Momentum Team called Improving Transportation in City Heights.


Come vote for Mid-City CAN

Coordinating Council on Dec. 13


Members can fill five seats on the Mid-City CAN Coordinating Council during elections on Dec. 13.


The Coordinating Council is the governing body of the Mid-City Community Advocacy Network and sets the overall direction of the collaborative.


The first voting session is during the Networking Council meeting from 8 to 10 a.m. Dec. 13. An evening session will be from 4:30-6:30 p.m.  Dec. 13. Both sessions will be at the Scripps Rady City Heights Wellness Center, 4440 Wightman Ave., Suite 200.


Results will be announced by 5 p.m. Dec.16.


Only registered Mid-City CAN members are allowed to vote. Mid-City CAN is not currently accepting new members and will resume taking new members Jan. 2.


Organization candidates (two open seats)

  • Carolyn Pinces is community engagement associate manager at Planned Parenthood and co-chair of the Teen Sexual Health Momentum Team. She is also a member of the School Attendance Momentum Team.
  • Clare Crawford is executive director at the Center on Policy Initiatives
  • Carmen Zambrano
  • Ali Sadad is executive director at the African Coalition Workforce and is a member of the Peace Promotion Momentum Team

Resident candidates (three open seats)

  • Hamse Warfa is a senior program officer at Alliance Healthcare Foundation
  • Ahmed Malinomar is property manager at Metro Villa Apartments and a member of the City Heights Project Area Committee. He is a member of the Access to Healthcare Momentum Team.
Mid-City CAN presents at American Public Health Association conference

About a dozen Mid-City CAN co-chairs, members, youth council members and residents flew to Washington, D.C., to present at the American Public Health Association's 139th Annual Meeting and Exposition from Oct. 31 to Nov. 1. They also met with California's Congressional representatives later in the week.


On Oct. 31 Mid-City CAN members gave a round-table presentation about the collaborative structure and resident involvement. On Nov. 1 Food Justice Momentum Team Co-Chair Jennifer Chandler gave a poster presentation explaining the collaborative structure. Members of the youth council also gave a presentation about youth engagement in the collaborative. [To hear the youth presentation, click here] [To see photos from the trip, click here.]


The group's meeting with Bob Filner, U.S. Representative for California's 51st Congressional District, on Nov. 2 left the Congressman wanting more.


"I'd like maybe a tour of some of the businesses, social service agencies, give me a tour of City Heights some morning," he said. "We'll take a few hours."


The group also met with Susan Davis, U.S. Representative for California's 53rd Congressional District, on Nov. 3.


"I'm glad that you came out here for the conference," Davis said. "Hearing from others, getting great ideas."


The trip began on Oct. 30. Members returned on Nov. 5.

Members of Mid-City CAN went to Washington, D.C. to present at the American Public Health Association meeting.
Members of Mid-City CAN went to Washington, D.C. to present at the American Public Health Association meeting. For more pictures, click here.


Meet the Grantee: Employee Rights Center
offers expertise about immigration


Immigration status can make people afraid to move around in their own community - making it difficult to do anything from attend school to access healthcare.


Because immigration issues cut across so much of what the Building Healthy Communities Initiative is trying to do, they are some of the most critical to address. The California Endowment is using The Employee Rights center to provide technical assistance about these issues to Building Healthy Communities grantees working in City Heights.


Employee Rights Center is one of the few organizations that offers nonprofit immigration services in San Diego, according to Peter Zschiesche, Employee Rights Center's founding director.


The organization's numbers are impressive, Zschiesche said. It has two attorneys in its office in City Heights, and many resources beyond that.


"Last year, we generated over 12,000 volunteer hours from law students in San Diego that were giving their services to serve low income people in City Heights and elsewhere in San Diego," he said. "It's a tremendous resource we have to offer."


Employee Rights Center plans to work with Mid-City CAN's Momentum Teams to connect with grantees and educate them. The Center's Program Director Alor Calderon and Community Organizer Eneh-Lieh Ancheta are already engaging with some Mid-City CAN momentum teams about how to approach immigration issues facing City Heights residents.  It plans to work with more Mid-City CAN momentum teams in early 2012.


"We are introducing ourselves to momentum teams," Zschiesche said. "We are willing to train some people, so they become the members of the momentum team that come to us about immigration issues."


"We are here to help inform anybody in the community that is involved in the Building Healthy Communities project about immigration issues and [help them to have a] better understanding of how it can impact people's lives," he said.


And immigration status may be far more complex than most people realize, Zschiesche said.


"It is not just a matter of being undocumented or a citizen, there are a lot of different people in-between," he said. "There are a tremendous amount of mixed households in City Heights, where there are different immigration statuses between the parents and kids, or the two parents - or with some of the kids and not with some of the other kids."


The complex relationships are what Employee Rights Center is tasked with helping grantees understand and navigate.


"Part of our job within technical assistance is to make those people who want to provide services and be a part of the Building Healthy Communities project to be sensitive to the fact that immigration status is complex and it means different things to different people," he said


Despite barriers, it has plenty of success stories.


Sarah Loftin, an Employee Rights Center immigration attorney, describes one family's struggle in an email:


"We recently finished legalizing status for a City Heights family," she wrote. "In 2009, we helped the father obtain citizenship despite his complex criminal history.  Once we got his citizenship approved, we then helped him petition for his wife and minor son who were both undocumented.  His wife had a complex case because of overstays with her border crossing card."


After a lengthy process, Employee Rights Center helped the family to visit Mexican relatives for the first time in six years, she wrote.


"This was a really important victory for the family," she wrote.


Employee Rights CenterEmployee Rights Center

Contact Alor Calderon

or Eneh-Lieh Anchete

(619) 521-1372

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

4265 Fairmount Ave., Suite 210



The California Endowment

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The Mid-City Community Advocacy Network's mission is to create a safe, productive,Quotation (Right)
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