Yesterday, immigrant rights groups took direct action to law makers on both coasts of the country. With the Senate reopening debate on health care reform, the current version of the bill being debated will once again throw immigrants (both documented and undocumented) under the bus.
In San Francisco, around 250 people demonstrated outside of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. The rally was organized in reaction to the Senate’s version of the health care reform bill that excludes undocumented immigrants from purchasing insurance with their own money and reinstates the five year bar for legal immigrants’ access to care.
EunSook Lee, Executive Director of NAKASEC spoke to the crowd about their common purpose:
Unfortunately, the Senate bill released last week falls far short of the House bill with regards to immigrant inclusion. Once again, immigrants continue to become the scapegoats and, if not corrected, this will result in a poisoning of the health care debate and the blocking of the real progress Americans need. Speaker Nancy Pelosi demonstrated pivotal leadership by standing strong against pressure from both sides of the aisle and the White House to exclude people from health reform. Today we are here in San Francisco representing millions of people in this country in support of health reform and urging her to remain strong.
Meanwhile, on the East coast, around 40 activists from CASA de Maryland and NAKASEC gathered outside of the infamous Representative Joe Wilson’s office to protest the scapegoating of immigrants that Wilson ignited with his “You lie” outburst during a joint session of Congress this September.
I love that the protestors outside of Joe Wilson’s office directly ask staffers how it makes sense to deny them the right to buy insurance with their own money, while still paying taxes and contributing positively to our country. The staffers have no idea what just hit them.
Congress and the White House Have Gone Too Far Now!!
Health Care Reform Hijacked by Anti-Immigrant Extremists
Rather than calling out the opposition’s desperate attempt to derail health care reform by using anti-immigrant scare tactics, the White House and Congress are now “spooked” and in response, threaten to deny immigrants’ access to affordable healthcare.
The White House has said no undocumented immigrants will be allowed to purchase, even at full price, health insurance for themselves or their families. Health insurance in the Exchange is not a government benefit — it’s like any other item you can purchase in our economy. Now, despite the fact that they work, pay taxes, and live with family members who are citizens or legal immigrants, undocumented immigrants will not be allowed to buy health insurance, just like everyone else, even if they are able to pay full cost.
Tell the White House and Congress to stand for what is right and pass a health care reform bill that helps, not hurts, Americans!
Calls Needed TODAY to:
- President Barack Obama at The White House
- U.S. Senate:
- Majority Leader Senator Reid (D-NV)
- Senator Baucus (D-MT) – Chair, Senate Finance Committee
- Senator Harkin (D-IA) – Chair, Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee
- Switchboard: 202-224-3121
- U.S House of Representatives:
- Speaker Pelosi (D-CA)
- Majority Leader Hoyer (D-MD)
- Representative Waxman (D-CA) – Chair, Energy & Commerce Commitee
- Representative Rangel (D-NY) – Chair, Ways & Mean Committee
- Representative Miller (D-CA) – Chair, Education & Labor Committee
- Switchboard: 202-224-3121
Keep reading for talking points and more resources.
While there is a lot of national attention on the health care debate at the moment, we shouldn’t forget that immigration and health care intersect in various and meaningful ways. Health care reform that doesn’t include access for immigrants would be a loss for the whole country. From NCLR:
…the positive impact of several reform proposals on the table may be undermined by additional measures that would severely restrict access to health coverage by mandating new, expensive verification and documentation procedures. “This debate should be about health care for all, and setting the nation on a pathway to future health and well-being. Adding layers of immigrant verification and bureaucratic red tape to a new health care system would guarantee that millions of citizen children are effectively barred from accessing preventive care and would raise the cost of health care,” Murguía noted.
“For this reason, we are extremely concerned that some view health reform as a way to scapegoat immigrants,” Murguía continued. “We agree that the immigration system needs to be fixed, but address that problem separately through immigration reform. The best way to reduce costs in our health care system is to ensure that people do not have to follow a long paper trail to get to the doctor and that everyone shares the costs of a new system. Making health care easier to use and accessible for all workers and children is simple common sense.”
Let’s hope that as the health care debate moves forward, a common-sense and inclusive approach is taken.