AZ bill would require hospital workers to police immigration

January 25, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Erin White, erin@caminopr.com / 212.255.2575

AZ bill would require hospital workers to police immigration

Bill would have chilling effect on care for pregnant women, victims of violence
(New York) -

Today, the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights (NCIWR) condemns legislation introduced into the Arizona legislature by Rep. Steve Smith (R-Maricopa) that would require hospital workers to determine the citizenship of patients without insurance information. This is a misguided bill that targets and stigmatizes immigrants and will make it more difficult for immigrants, including immigrant women and their families, to access important care.

“At a time when immigrant women face so many challenges in getting basic health care, and are increasingly targeted by anti-immigrant legislation, this bill would take another step backward. Our communities deserve better,” said Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), a steering committee member of NCIWR.

This unconscionable bill would hit immigrant women particularly hard, creating a chilling effect on immigrants seeking critical and preventative care for themselves and their families. This legislation in Arizona has potential to further promote anti-immigrant rhetoric that creates an environment of stigma and fear.

Furthermore, this bill would turn hospital workers into immigration enforcement officers, a distraction that has potential to negatively impact important care for all patients regardless of who they are, where they came from, or what their residency status is.

“Immigrant women already face far too many barriers to accessing health care. This bill would legalize harassment of immigrants and, in fact, of any woman who looks like she could be an immigrant,” said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), also an NCIWR steering committee member. “This country needs compassionate, inclusive immigration reform and health care policies that support immigrant women and their families, not laws like this one that institutionalize bias and stigma and prevent our most vulnerable from care they critically need.”

“This bill is an obvious attempt to target immigrants when they are most vulnerable — when they need important, immediate medical care,” Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights & Justice Program at Women's Refugee Commission, another NCIWR steering committee member, added. “This bill would force immigrant women and their families even further into the shadows and prevent immigrant women desperately in need of care — like those who are pregnant or victims or intimate partner violence — from accessing it for fear of deportation and of having their families torn apart.”

NCIWR stands in solidarity with women’s and immigrants’ rights supporters across the country and calls on supporters of immigrant women to urge Arizona legislators not to pass this bill.

 

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For more information about the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights, please visit http://nciwr.wordpress.com.