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Undocumented Immigrant

City skylineHow many undocumented immigrants there are in the United States is difficult to determine since numbers aren’t reported in census reports. Estimates range from about 15 million on the low side, to approximately 30 million.In big cities like Los Angeles and New York, as well as border towns in states like Texas, the undocumented population is believed to be quite high. These cities have very large economies, and many undocumented immigrants settle there because they can find work.While immigration is a touchy subject for some people, two coastal cities, Los Angeles and New York, have implemented programs that allow undocumented immigrants to better become part of the culture and assimilate with natural born citizens and legal residents. Other states and cities are starting to follow in their footsteps as well.Los AngelesLos Angeles has always had a large population of undocumented immigrants – considerably larger than most other cities in the country. While exact numbers can’t be calculated, it is believed that more than three million undocumented illegal immigrants call the city of Los Angeles home.Driver’s License Program for Undocumented Immigrants in Los AngelesTraffic in L.A.In late 2012, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that allows hundreds of thousands of undocumented citizens to obtain a valid legal driver’s license. Though the plan may seem controversial to some, there are restrictions that limit who can obtain a driver’s license in Los Angeles.According to the new law, undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before their 16th birthday, and who are now 30 years of age or younger, will be able to apply for a driver’s license just like everybody else in the state without fear of deportation or legal repercussions.Individuals applying for a driver’s license in Los Angeles also need to have a high school diploma or GED. Applicants need to be free of felonies and have a clean police record as well, though some people who have been found guilty of committing petty crimes will still be able to apply for a driver’s license.Undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles applying for a driver’s license will also have to qualify with ICE and the Department of Homeland Security before they are able to apply for a driver’s license.Many undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles are thankful that this bill was turned into law. Los Angeles and surrounding areas have long been known for being difficult to navigate without a car, making regular employment difficult for some undocumented immigrants.Still, not everybody is happy that undocumented immigrants will be allowed to legally drive and work in Los Angeles if they qualify. Opponents have even called for the law to be struck down. However, in a state with a liberal history like California’s, that doesn’t seem likely to happen.New YorkHistorically, New York is the place many people think of when they think of immigrants coming to the United States, though Ellis Island is actually in New Jersey. In fact, more than one million people came to the United States through New York Harbor and Ellis Island in 1907 alone. Today, New York still has one of the largest immigrant populations in the entire United States.Health Care for Undocumented Immigrants in New Yorkstatue of liberty

New York officials have made public statements urging undocumented immigrants to come forward and seek quality medical care when they need it.

Despite this though, undocumented immigrants feel afraid to seek health care from hospitals and doctors because they fear being fined, arrested, or deported.

In an open letter to the undocumented immigrant population of New York, Alan D. Aviles, President of the New York Health and Hospitals Corporation, and Fatima Shama, the Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs for the state, stated clearly that undocumented immigrants who came forward to get medical attention would not be reported to immigration officials, and that their status would be kept confidential.

The open letter also stated that all hospitals would provide quality healthcare to all, regardless of their immigration status and ability to pay. The letter was even translated and printed in 12 different languages in order to reach as many people as possible.

While the letter was received well by the general press, some have expressed concerns about how treating undocumented immigrants who could not afford to pay for services rendered would affect legal residents, especially at a time when the medical community is reeling from a lack of funds.

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