Health & Safety

Vermont Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project Praises Legislature’s Decision to Change Residency Requirement

From VTDigger.org, Brendan O’Neill, vtmfsp@gmail.com, 4 May 2011.

For Immediate Release: Vermont passes Universal Health Care Bill H202.

Immigrant Rights Groups Praise Lawmakers for Striking Language that had Excluded Undocumented Workers

Montpelier, Vermont-May 3, 2011-. On Tuesday May 3rd, Vermont signed into law the historical Universal Health Care bill H202 and lawmakers affirmed that Vermont is committed to find a way to make the bill truly Universal in its coverage.

“This is a huge victory for our state, and it only happened because of the thousands of Vermonters who have been working together to make their voices heard and demand action,” said Peg Franzen, President of the Vermont Workers’ Center, which launched the Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign in 2008 to change what is politically possible in healthcare reform.

Over the past week the VT Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project has partnered with the Vermont Worker’s Center to mobilize and organize around the clock to defeat the so-called ‘Brock-Sears’ amendment to the Universal Health Care Bill. The amendment changed the previous H202 definition of a Vermont ‘resident’ to explicitly exclude undocumented workers from Vermont’s Universal Health Care bill. After days of phone calls, lobbying, grassroots organizing, and a huge rally at the state house on May 1st the exclusionary language was struck in a joint senate house committee on May 2.

Martha Caswell of the VT Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project reacted, “We are pleased that lawmakers listened to their constituents, and stepped up to eliminate the bill’s exclusionary language in regards to this population. This process shows that as Vermonters we are willing to stand up for inclusion, justice and human rights.”

On Monday night leaders of the Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign from Bennington spoke to Senator Dick Sears, who agreed to withdraw his support for the amendment and instead to introduce a resolution calling for federal immigration reform. Caswell added, “While at the Federal level we still have a long way to go toward achieving just immigration and health care policies, we in Vermont have an opportunity to set an example. By ensuring welcoming and inclusive communities for everyone who lives and works here, we can lead the way.”

Documentary filmaker Sam Mayfield added, “While I watched the discussion about the Brock/Sears amendment take place before me in the form of email correspondence with lawmakers it became clear that they needed information about the population who would suffer most with this amendment.” This led Mayfield to organize a special viewing of the documentary film Silenced Voices in the State House. She produced the film working with the VT Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project and it has since been shown across the state in order to raise awareness and generate support for Vermont’s farm workers (More information: http://www.vtmfsp.org/node/72).

About 25 people gathered in the state house on Tuesday morning May 3rd to watch Silenced Voices before the big vote on H202 and about half were lawmakers. “I felt that if lawmakers were made more aware of who is most affected by this explicit exclusion they may reconsider their vote and be moved to not let the amendment out of committee,” Mayfield explained.

The VTMFSP wants to thank all those Vermonters who stood up for a truly humane, inclusive and Universal Health Care System! Health Care is a Human Right. Everybody in! Nobody Out!

http://www.VTMFSP.org

Source: VTDigger.org, “Vermont Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project Praises Legislature’s Decision to Change Residency Requirement” by Brendan O’Neill, vtmfsp@gmail.com, 4 May 2011.

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