Andy came to the United States as a toddler.
Growing up, he wasn’t really aware of his undocumented status.
But he noticed little things—little ways that his experience differed from his siblings—that hinted at it.
For one, unlike many of his siblings, he didn’t have health insurance.
“My mom used to have this little stack of cards which was like the Medicare, the Medi-Cal cards...and I would always ask why don't I have one.”
While Andy was growing up, undocumented immigrants—including children—were not eligible for full-coverage Medi-Cal under state law, according to Carolina Gamero, a spokesperson for the immigrant rights organization California Immigrant Policy Center. Today, all children under the age of 19 are eligible regardless of immigration status, provided they meet all other requirements.
It wasn’t until high school that Andy realized what was going on.
He wanted to play on the school’s football team and they required insurance. So he asked his mom whether he had coverage.
“She's like, ‘You don't have insurance,’ and then I guess she didn't want to explain it,” he said. “I talked to my older sisters and they were the ones that explained to me that you're not documented, you can’t have insurance.”
(Luckily, his school’s football team had a separate insurance program that he could pay for separately, so Andy ended up playing.)
But from that moment on, Andy began to notice other disadvantages in his life.