The time is now: common-sense immigration reform for our country and economy

SEIU Healthcare 1199NW was founded 30 years ago with a mission to provide healthcare for all and to advance dignity and rights on the job for all workers. We’ve made great progress but we must continue fighting to ensure everyone has access to care, and all workers, no matter where they come from, are respected. That’s why we are supporting common-sense immigration reform, a measure backed with bipartisan Congressional support.

2013 is the year we enact immigration reform that:

• Upholds our values as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws;

• Allows hardworking, taxpaying immigrants a chance to earn citizenship;

• Builds the strength and unity of all working people;

• Keeps families together;

• Guarantees the same rights and justice for all workers; and

• Provides all workers and families with access to healthcare.

Our Principles for Common-Sense Immigration Reform

A path to citizenship

Immigrants across America need a roadmap to earn citizenship. The alternative – punitive attacks, tearing families apart, and harassment without hope – is fundamentally un-American. Passing common-sense immigration reform would create better wage and labor standards for all workers and hold employers who take advantage of immigrant labor accountable. Citizenship would guarantee the same rights, obligations, and basic fairness for all workers no matter where they come from and stop employers from dividing working people. SEIU also supports the DREAM Act, a measure to stop the deportation and criminalization of aspiring citizens who were brought here as children. This needs to be part of the reform package so young immigrants who have grown up in this country can earn citizenship.

A fair process for new immigrants

We need to create safe, organized, and legal ways to allow new immigrants and their families to come to the United States. Any new worker visa program must meet U.S. labor, wage, and hour standards; allow workers to change jobs; and give workers the ability to petition for permanent residency. Safe Borders The most realistic way to make our borders safe is to provide non-citizens an opportunity to become legal Americans. When we have safe and organized ways for new immigrants to come to the country, law enforcement can focus on keeping bad actors from entering the country or engaging in illegal activities.

Reduced barriers to healthcare

Many aspiring citizens work in low-wage jobs that do not have employer-provided healthcare, yet purchasing private coverage is unaffordable to many of these workers. They are also ineligible for Medicaid or CHIP coverage. Aspiring citizens are three times more likely to be uninsured and more than one in three immigrant children do not have any healthcare coverage. A path to citizenship would open access to healthcare for millions of uninsured aspiring citizens under the Affordable Care Act. Starting in 2014, Medicaid will expand to cover nearly all individuals, including lawfully present immigrants. This expansion will result in increased coverage and will help reduce health disparities. Common-sense immigration reform is a necessary step to help currently undocumented workers gain the legal recognition they need to access this care. Without coverage, workers and their families rely on community health centers and emergency rooms. Healthcare coverage for aspiring citizens would drive down healthcare costs imposed on our safety net healthcare programs.

“As members of SEIU, we fight for all workers and patients no matter where they come from. Aspiring citizens are our neighbors and they are the patients we see every day. Everyone deserves the same quality care. It’s time for us to address the issue of immigration reform and call on Congress for real solutions that keep families together, provide a pathway to citizenship, and help all workers and families get better access to healthcare.” Vanessa Patricelli, RN, Harborview Medical Center

“When I was growing up in a poor neighborhood in Santiago, Chile, my father had difficulties in raising our family with his irregular income. He had a dream of coming to the United States where he knew his children would have a greater opportunity to build a better future. It took a long time and we were separated from our father for 8 years. But eventually me and my brother were able to immigrate and we finally joined our father. 3 years ago I became a US citizen and my wife and children were finally able to join me here. Now that I work at Northwest Hospital I am able to pursue my dreams and raise my family and hope for a bright future for my two sons, Gabriel and Alonso. I am on the cutting edge of green technology, as our union pushes the healthcare industry to make improvements in our ecological footprint. Our union’s work in immigration reform and reuniting families like mine is important because families like mine are contributing to the larger American dream of good wages, a clean environment, and social justice.” David Perez, Environmental Services, Northwest Hospital

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