Vice President Mike Pence worries that a new California law extending health care to illegal immigrants will weaken the border.
Pence reacted to California Gov. Gavin Newsom signing SB 104 into law on Tuesday. The bill extends taxpayer-funded health benefits to all low-income Californians 25 or under, regardless of immigration status.
Visiting the Central Valley on Wednesday, Pence addressed a crowd at a fundraiser at Harris Inn Ranch in Coalinga. He then spoke to about 600 at a family farm just outside of Lemoore.
When asked about the health care bill Newsom signed into law, Pence said he vehemently opposed it.
“Let’s be clear. Human traffickers are enticing people to make the long and dangerous journey north by loopholes in our laws. Frankly, offering free health care as many Democrats have done, offering to make illegal immigration legal are policies that amount to open borders will only empower human traffickers to exploit more families,” Pence told reporters after his speech.
Newsom’s office, contacted to GV Wire, declined to offer a response.
Health Care for All
California’s plan is expected to add 90,000 to the state-paid health care rolls at a cost of $98 million.
“We’re providing health care for everyone, regardless of immigration status,” Newsom said at an event marking the bill signing. “If you believe in universal health care, you believe in universal health care.”
The state already provides health care to low-income state residents younger than 18. Before Newsom reached a compromise with state legislators, previous versions of the bill would have included either all Californians (Assembly version), or those 19-25 and 65 and older (Senate version).
Newsom indicated he would like to cover everyone, regardless of age or immigration status, in the future.
Pence Concerned About Borders
In his speech at the Freitas Family Farm, Pence spent about 30 minutes mainly discussing the pending U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement.
He also answered reporters’ questions afterward, talking about the southern border, and about problems with a labor shortage on agriculture.
Regarding SB 104, Pence worried about its effect on border security.
“It’s the wrong policy. A nation without borders is not a nation,” Pence said. “President Trump and I are absolutely determined to secure our borders, to provide compassionate and humanitarian care to those who present themselves at our borders, and to reform our laws and take the tools away. Offering free health care to illegal immigrants is not the answer and it will make things worse.”