Tagline: Until the Work Is Done
On the move in the Inland Empire
July 5, 2016 at 4:49 pm

In This Section


By Fred Mariscal, Program Associate

Palm Springs and surrounding communities are home to a vibrant LGBT community – but did you know that the Coachella Valley is also home to a large undocumented community as well, and that many are members of both communities? That gives the region’s LGBT residents unique concerns, relating both to health and immigration.

Equality California has embarked in an exciting new project in the Inland Empire to build local coalitions of LGBT organizations, LGBT-friendly and immigrant-friendly religious congregations, and other civil rights/social justice groups within the Central Valley and Inland Empire to advocate for healthcare access for LGBT and undocumented individuals.

After passage of the Affordable Care Act, California cut its uninsured population in half, primarily by expanding Medi-Cal. Just last May, the state expanded Medi-Cal to cover undocumented children. Most of the remaining uninsured are undocumented adults, we need to make sure that everyone is covered.

Riverside County alone is home to an estimated 236,000 LGBT residents, of whom as many as 7000 may be transgender. According to the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice, at least seven percent of the residents of the Inland Empire are undocumented. This gives us an estimate of 16,000 residents who are both LGBT and undocumented.

To reach them, we have teamed up with the Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance, the Inland Coalition for immigrant Justice, and other local organizations to have a series of community meetings to address these disparities. This is a community that we can’t leave behind.

In 2015, Equality California began offering cultural competency trainings to healthcare providers in the Central Valley to effectively serve LGBT clients and patients, with the emphasis on undocumented LGBT clients/patients. This year, we have expanded and are now offering trainings to healthcare providers in the Inland Empire. If you have a connection to a healthcare provider, clinic, or hospital in the Central Valley or Inland Empire, please email me, Fred Mariscal at fred@eqca.org, so that we can ensure that all healthcare providers in these regions receive trainings.

Last week marked our first meeting in San Bernardino in which we had the opportunity to learn more about what local leaders are doing to improve the access and quality of healthcare for the LGBT/Undocumented community, and how Equality California can support their current efforts and programs.

Also participating were the Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance, Rev. Benita Ramsey, Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice Director Javier Hernandez, the ACLU of the Inland Empire, Borrego Health Clinics,  representatives from Congressman Pete Aguilar and State Senator Connie Leyva, El Centro del Inmigrante, The Pomona Day Labor Center, SEIU, Cal State San Bernardino, and the San Bernardino Church of Christ, among others.

As a follow up to this meeting we formed a Health Care Action Team that will work with local leaders to improve access and quality of healthcare for the LGBT community undocumented communities in the area.

We are very excited about this project, and about the possibility of making a lasting impact to the LGBT community, and the undocumented community in the Inland Empire.  We’ll report back with an update on our progress next month.

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