Aspiring Citizens Should have Access to Programs

August. 22, 2013

Adela de la Torre, 213-674-2832, [email protected]

Over 400 Groups Tell Congress to Allow Aspiring Citizens Access to Programs their Tax Dollars Support

WASHINGTON —Immigrants who qualify for the road to citizenship should be able to pay their fair share for affordable health care, have access to nutrition programs, and be treated like other taxpayers by the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration, Congress was told today in a letter from more than 400 groupsrepresenting immigrant, health care, labor, civil rights, social justice, and faith communities.

Under the Senate bill passed in June, the nation’s 11 million aspiring citizens could apply for a provisional status that would make them wait 10 to 13 years for citizenship. During this time, “registered provisional immigrants” would have permission to live in the country, work, and continue to pay taxes like all Americans, but would be denied access to affordable health care, nutrition assistance, and a decade’s worth of Social Security earnings from taxes they paid.

“During these years, immigrants on a legal path to citizenship will have to pay the same taxes as other working Americans but will be shut out of programs their taxes fund,” stated the letter by over 400 groups in California, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas and other states.

“During the August recess, members of Congress are being reminded that our nation and economy would benefit from immigration reform,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “But economic justice also demands that immigrants share in the same opportunities afforded to all taxpaying wage-earners, including access to affordable health care and nutrition programs.  This is a fair and wise investment in a stronger economy and healthier society.”

Equal access to affordable health care and nutrition assistance and equal treatment of all taxpayers who contribute to Social Security allows aspiring citizens to fully participate and contribute to society.

“By creating the same requirements and opportunities for all taxpaying workers — including those on a path to citizenship — we would be protecting the integrity of our tax code and Social Security system,” said Deborah Weinstein, executive director of the Coalition on Human Needs, which advocates on behalf of children, women, the elderly and people with disabilities. “It is important to remember that more than 4 out of 5 immigrant households include U.S. citizen children.”

Immigrants, including women and children, should not be marginalized in the immigration debate. “The health care needs of women and children are being left behind,” said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “A 10-15 year wait or more for health care and nutrition assistance can be a lifetime for children and could mean the difference between life and death for a woman with undetected breast or cervical cancer. We urge Congress to advance smart reforms that allow all aspiring citizens to fully contribute to the success of their families and communities.”

Here is the letter.

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