Friday, July 24, 2009

Health Care Reform Sparks Attack on Lawful Immigrants

Yesterday, Kevin Johnson provided important information on the real facts about immigrants and health care reform. Today, the National Immigration Center issued a release on disturbing proposals in the Senate.

From the National Immigration Law Center:

ENOUGH is ENOUGH: Strong Response Needed to Prevent Congress from Shutting Legal Immigrants out of Health Reform

First our political leaders said health care reform would cover everyone.

Then they said undocumented immigrants would not be covered. "It's too politically explosive," explained Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus.

Now we hear the Senate committee is considering barring legal immigrants from subsidies enabling low and moderate income families to secure affordable coverage under the Heath Insurance Exchange, the signature new feature of health care reform.

Under pressure to reduce the price tag associated with the bill, Senators are looking for "easy targets" to cut, and a bulls-eye is turning to immigrants.

Sound familiar? A similar dynamic occurred a decade ago when the Newt Gingrich Congress funded welfare reform on the backs of legal immigrants, restricting their eligibility for services. Immigrants and the state and local governments that host them are still struggling under that discriminatory legacy.

Our task is to ensure that Congress hears, loud and clear, that immigrants are not, in fact, "easy targets." Our political leaders must understand that creating new barriers to health care for legal immigrants would also be also "politically explosive," sparking opposition from constituents and jeopardizing the prospects of health reform's passage.

Please contact your two Senators with this urgent message:

"Legal immigrants and citizens should be treated equally under health reform. The same rules should apply when it comes toaffordablehealth insurance through subsidies, or through Medicaid."

Legal immigrants pay the same taxes as citizens, and have a right to use the programs and services their tax dollars pay for. It would be unacceptable to welcome people to come to this country as lawful permanent residents, collect their taxes, and then refuse to let them buy affordable health insurance through the new exchange. All Americans deserve health care they can afford. We simply cannot afford half-measures and unfair exclusions in health reform that leave out millions more.

To reach your Senators, call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and say the name of the Senator you are trying to reach.

For the names and direct contact information of your Senators, search here:

In addition, we encourage organizations to endorse a letter, which calls on the Senate Finance Committee to ensure that: all legal immigrants have access to subsidies in the Health Insurance Exchange; the five year waiting period preventing legal immigrants from participating in the Medicaid program is eliminated; and Medicaid is available to all low-income children and pregnant women, regardless of immigration status.

A quick turnaround is required. Organizations wishing to sign on should inform Bill Daley by noon Eastern time, Monday, July 27:


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