How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

On 'Immigrant Day' in Sacramento, activists campaign for state legislation

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Hundreds of immigrant advocates from throughout California plan to convene in Sacramento Monday for the annual tradition known as Immigrant Day, organized by immigrant rights groups.

It's a day of legislative visits and rallying on the west steps of the state Capitol Building, planned with the goal of persuading lawmakers to support bills pertinent to immigrants.

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a long list of immigration-related bills, including one known as the Trust Act, which limits who state and local authorities can hold for deportation at federal agents' request.

While there are fewer measures on the radar during this year's event, bills that advocates will be pushing include what’s known as the Health for All Act, which proposes allowing access to Medi-Cal coverage for people who can’t get health insurance through the federal government because they’re in the U.S. illegally.
Trina Pasumbal, a 20-year-old college student from Eagle Rock, is attending Immigrant Day for the first time. Pasumbal arrived in the U.S. when she was a child from the Philippines; she and several family members don't have legal status. She said she was especially interested in helping pass the health bill.
“It is very important for my family, especially for my aunt," Pasumbal said. "She has been living with diabetes and she’s undocumented, so she wasn't able to get the care that she needs.”

Now in its 18th year, the event is organized by the California Immigrant Policy Center and other immigrant advocacy groups.

Among the other measures activists will push for as they meet with legislators is a bill that would make it easier for jail inmates — as well as immigrant detainees — to contact their attorneys and families. They also hope to restore a public program to help provide naturalization assistance to hopeful U.S. citizens.

As California and other states have passed immigration legislation, Congress remains at an impasse. House GOP leaders say they will block a vote set for this week on a bill that would grant legal status to immigrants who serve in the military.

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