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Immigration Reform and Health Equity for Immigrants

As on reproductive justice, Unitarian Universalists (UUs) are uniquely positioned to advocate for justice for immigrants. Some of the most harmful effects of the broken U.S. immigration system have been borne by women and parents who are unable to have full control over their sexual and reproductive lives because of their immigration status, race, financial capabilities, or gender identity.

For example, people who lack proper documentation have extremely limited access to employment and health insurance, keeping them from having safe pregnancies or healthy families. For fear of being reported, undocumented women are hesitant to access services from law-enforcement or medical centers when they are abused or raped, which deepens cycles of violence and poverty.

Like the recently-proposed immigration reform bill in the U.S. Senate, many federal and state policies restrict access to Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act including contraceptives and other preventative women’s health services for undocumented migrants and non-citizens. Immediate and effective advocacy is necessary now to provide these basic human rights to immigrants.

Resources for Education

Films and Videos

Books

Factsheets and Research

Resources/Opportunities for Advocacy

Organizations

Sample Letter to the Editor or Federal Lawmaker

Check out these tips for letters to the editor or working with your elected officials.

Dear Editor/Representative/Senator,

Immigration is rarely talked about as a women’s issue, but women and children make up three-quarters of all immigrants to the United States. Half of the 11 million undocumented immigrants are women. Women have been historically burdened and excluded from the immigration system, and the current Senate proposal, while much better than previous proposals, needs to be fixed in a number of ways in order to not do further damage. As a Unitarian Universalist, I believe that every person, irrespective of immigration status, has dignity and should have the right to meet their basic needs, including health care, education, and a living wage.

Almost three-quarters of women that enter the U.S. legally do so through the family sponsorship system. All families are valuable no matter their arrangement, and none should be split down the middle by this bill’s arbitrary elimination of sibling and adult children sponsorship categories. Love has no borders.

All taxpayers should be entitled to use the programs that they pay for. However, many people are barred from using these programs and tax credits solely on the basis of their immigration status. These immoral provisions, which take aim at women and families, must be corrected.

Lastly, the current Senate bill forbids most individuals from access to vital health coverage and nutritional assistance for the entire 10 years they are in provisional status. Some individuals are barred from federal health care for an additional five years after that. Pregnant women, infants, children, and people who need standard preventative care, which is every person, cannot wait 15 years to see a doctor. These restrictions will result in even wider health disparities and poorer health outcomes. All people must be able to make the health care decisions that are right for them and their family.

The history of the human family is one of migration. The tradition of extending welcome to the stranger is an ancient and ubiquitous one. Laws that provide a path of inclusion are what our society needs so that all may contribute to our communities and walk openly in the light of God.

Use these talking points (PDF, 1 page) to create your own letter to the editor or to Congress.

Find out who your elected officials are.

Organizing within Unitarian Universalism
Offer to help your UUA district/region or Unitarian Universalist state advocacy network work on reproductive justice for immigrants.

Join the UUs for Reproductive Justice Yahoo Group and Facebook Group.

Meet with your Elected Officials
An advocacy visit is the most effective way to make your voice heard in Congress. Schedule your visit for either your official’s Capitol Hill or in-district offices. Use these tips for lobby visits, and help find the local office for your elected officials.

Acts of Service/Charitable Giving
Find local affiliates of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health or the National Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF).

There may be a local reproductive justice organization(s) in your area. Search the internet or contact local clinics, women’s studies departments at local universities, or advocacy organizations to find them.

Resources for Reflection