On Wednesday at KIAC, immigrants and KIAC team members filled our conference room and spilled out into the hallways. Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network (WAISN) visited the KIAC office, meeting our clients and updating us on two current advocacy projects – Unemployment Insurance for Undocumented Workers (HB 1095/SB 5109) and the Health Equity for Immigrants bill.
In coordination with KIAC team members, WAISN held three presentations with over 150 total attendees – using headsets to broadcast in both Spanish and simultaneous English. We are grateful for several local healthcare partners who participated as well as the presence of over 100 community members throughout the day. What an energetic, informative and community building afternoon!
We want to fill you in on what we learned:
HB 1095/SB 5109 will create a permanent, separate system providing unemployment benefits to undocumented workers in Washington State. Presently, although they pay taxes, undocumented workers are ineligible for unemployment benefits. In light of Covid and during the winter season, this continues to heavily impact the livelihood of immigrants. HB 1095/SB 5109 has been filed and had its first hearing last Friday in the House.
Health Equity for Immigrants is a proposed bill that will provide equal access to healthcare for all low-income Washingtonians, regardless of their immigration status, in coordination with the previously approved 1332 Waiver. Currently, undocumented immigrants are ineligible for both State sponsored and private health insurance. In many cases, this causes undocumented immigrants to not seek necessary medical care, knowing that the resulting bill will be too expensive. WAISN is currently working with a sponsor to submit this bill next week, hoping for a hearing in 2 weeks.
We know that changing the status quo takes enormous effort and numerous, diverse voices.
We know that changes like this are not given, they are fought for and won.
We know that these changes would profoundly impact the lives of thousands of our neighbors and make our communities closer to what we want them to be – a place where everyone, regardless of where they were born, has fair and equitable access to justice, respect and opportunity.
Here’s how you can help: