One of the lead investigators from UC Merced was Assistant Professor of Public Health Maria-Elena Young.
"California has done a great job, but there is more work to be done. There is still a relatively high negative perception about how immigrants are treated here in the state, and a lot of Latino and Asian immigrants encounter the enforcement systems," says Young.
The study found 70% of the 2,000 people surveyed perceived that immigrants experienced discrimination in the workplace due to skin color or accent.
And more than half of the participants felt they would be prevented from gaining legal U.S. immigration status if they used government benefits, such as income assistance, housing aid, health care, and food programs.
Young says they shouldn't be afraid.
"Health care services, educational, the resources we have here in the state are rich so use them knowing you are protected."
As a Latina herself, she says understanding the gaps between immigrants and government policies is huge.
She hopes to motivate immigrants to push for laws that make a positive impact for their own futures - and generations to come.
"My family's ability to pursue opportunities in this country have been shaped by many good immigration policies so I am committed to making sure we have a more inclusive landscape for all immigrants," says Young.
The research Young and her colleagues are doing is far from over. She says they will continue releasing more of their findings in the coming months.
To read the in-depth study, click here.