A budget deal between Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders would make California the first in the nation to offer state-subsidized health care to children who are in the country illegally. The $115.4 billion agreement announced Tuesday is expected to win easy approval from the Senate and Assembly before the fiscal year begins July 1, and its immigrant health care provisions were touted by its backers as a necessity in the face of federal inaction.
Antionette Dozier, senior attorney at Western Center on Law & Poverty, focuses on public benefits and other economic disparity issues that low-income Californians face. For them, she litigates, provides technical support to legal aid attorneys, and works on policy and legislation to secure public benefits and remove economic barriers to prosperity.
If you could give a high five to one of your legal heroes (living or dead), who would get it and why?
“This may read like a cop-out, but my high five goes to all of the advocates, nationally and internationally, working to secure civil and human rights and to uphold the dignity of poor people and minorities, and who strive to knock down systems of inequity by challenging the racism, sexism, ableism, mentalism, classism, and every other unmentioned “ism” that work to keep people poor and isolated. It’s tough work that we all do for little material reward or praise, but it often results in small and big positive changes that are enumerable. I’d give all of us two snaps and a cheer, too.”
By the time they set foot in their kindergarten classroom for the first time, half a million children in California will already have had their opportunities for academic success undermined by the pernicious impact of profound poverty.
By Paul Tepper & Joshua Pechthalt
Amid rising public clamor over drivers losing their licenses because of unpaid traffic tickets, the leaders of California’s court system voted unanimously Monday to end requirements that people pay the fines before being allowed to challenge them.
The new rule does not give relief to drivers who already have failed to attend their first court appearance because they couldn’t afford to pay or didn’t get a courtesy notice.
They will still have to bear the full cost of the violation before being allowed to challenge it. “Virtually every county in the state has been requiring full bail payment to contest a failure to appear,” said Michael Herald, legislative advocate for the Western Center on Law & Poverty, “and today’s rule does not help those clients overcome those problems.”
“Judges have the discretion under state law to reduce the bail amount if they believe the person is indigent,” said attorney Mike Herald of the Western Center on Law and Poverty. “Unfortunately most clients don’t know how to plead this in court.”
Herald said the courts get a sizable chunk of the money collected from citations, “so there’s an incentive on the judges to be tax collectors, which kind of warps their role.”
Low-income Californians are being disproportionately impacted by state laws and procedures related to driver’s license suspensions. Due to increased fines and fees and reduced access to courts, more than four million Californians have suspended drivers licenses. These suspensions make it harder for people to get and keep jobs, harm credit ratings and raise public safety concerns. Ultimately they keep people in long cycles of poverty that are difficult if not impossible for many to overcome. This report highlights the impacts on families, how the problem happens and what can and should be done to rectify it.
On April 1st, California’s repeal of a 17 year old law, banning food and basic needs assistance to people who had a prior drug-felony conviction, went into effect. As a result, thousands of needy families and individuals are now eligible for CalWORKs, CalFresh or General Assistance.
A Costa Mesa ordinance prohibits tenants from staying longer than 30 days in a motel, thus forcing them each month to move from the only affordable housing in the city.
Velma M. was pregnant, homeless, and on the run with her four children. It had taken all the courage she had to end the nightmare of abuse she had ensured at the hand of her former partner. But now Velma was experiencing another kind of nightmare- living in a car with her children and staying up all night to protect them. She had escaped the violence, but her family was more vulnerable than ever.