That further concerns public health officials and medical leaders who see immigrant parents forgoing health insurance for their children -- even if their offspring are U.S. citizens -- for fear that seeking care could jeopardize their chances of securing a green card.
Some believe Trump's pugnacious policies and the humanitarian crisis on the border with Mexico have softened attitudes toward undocumented immigrants and made voters more sympathetic to their plight.
Celinda Lake, a Democratic strategist who has done extensive research on health care issues, professed not to worry about a voter backlash, so long as presidential candidates make clear they're not just concerned about people in the country illegally.
"The biggest risk for Democrats is not being too liberal but not talking about things that deliver for working- and middle-class families," Lake said. "The people in these debates were pretty good ... with a ready answer about 'what are you going to do about health care for my family?'
"It's not 'either-or,' it's 'both,'" Lake said, "and we're much better getting 'both' out there."
(Barabak reported from San Francisco and Levey from Washington. Times staff writer Melanie Mason contribution to this report.)
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