Hispanic Health News
Latinas Support Hirono Amendments to Immigration Reform Bill
Photo: Latinas Support Hirono Amendments to Immigration Reform Bill
Health advocates applaud Hawaii Senator’s leadership to keep aspiring citizens healthy and productive
The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) applauds the leadership of Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) to improve the Senate’s current immigration reform bill (S. 744) to ensure immigrants can fully participate in society once obtaining lawful status. As currently written, the Senate’s “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” (S. 744) excludes most on the roadmap to citizenship from affordable health coverage and vital family economic supports for up to 15 years or more.
Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of NLIRH notes, “Women and families on the roadmap to citizenship who are working and paying taxes shouldn’t be forced to wait up to 15 years or more before they can get basic health care like cervical cancer screenings or contraception. For an immigrant woman, being able to protect her health and care for her family is the first step to full social, economic and civic integration into the American community. Medical coverage plays a crucial role in health and well-being, and all Americans should have access.”
Forcing new Americans to delay access to affordable health care and family economic supports will only lead to worse health outcomes, higher costs to families and the health care system, lower worker productivity and wider health disparities. The Senate bill for immigration reform is also out of touch with the majority of Americans who support improving aspiring citizens’ participation in health coverage programs. Hirono has filed amendments that would allow aspiring citizens to access health, nutrition and other programs supported by their own tax dollars so that they can stay healthy, provide for their family, and have the opportunity to fully participate in society.
At the same time, Senators Grassley (R-IA), Lee (R-UT), Hatch (R-UT), Sessions (R-AL) and Cruz (R-TX) have filed amendments that run contrary to sound public health and fiscal policy by undermining the ability of new Americans, who have fulfilled all other requirements such as registering and paying fines and taxes, to use the programs that would help them to stay healthy and productive.
González-Rojas notes, “Immigration reform will not live up to our nation’s highest values if it excludes those on the roadmap to citizenship from the programs that support the health of families, communities and our economy. The restrictions in the Senate bill are unwise, unjust and unsustainable. We urge members of the Senate to address these issues in a bipartisan fashion. As a critical first step, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee should support amendments filed by Hirono to ensure immigration reform includes the full rights and responsibilities of citizenship.”