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Actions of Senate Democrats Beg the Question: How Deep is the Commitment to the Latino Constituency?

LatinaLista — We know the immigration debate has divided the country, and we know it has clearly defined the differences between the Republicans and the Democrats.
But it’s always an eye-opener to see the issue used as the scapegoat reason for not passing good, sensible legislation — especially when it’s used by the one party that claims to have the best interests of the Latino community on their agenda.

Today, while President Bush was delivering his address to the United Nations General Assembly, he called on all country members to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that in Article 25 states:

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food and clothing and housing and medical care.”

Yet, Senate Democrats purposely chose to deprive legal immigrant children and pregnant women from getting that necessary medical care that ensures having, not a good, but an “adequate” standard of living.
Because of one word: IMMIGRANT.

This week, the Senate has been debating the reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
Originally, the amendment included the provision called Immigrant Children’s Health Improvement Act or ICHIA. It was an amendment that passed the House of Representatives this past summer with strong bipartisan support.
House members reasoned, “Why deprive legal immigrant children of health care and being able to access Medicaid and being covered by SCHIP?”
It defies common sense that anyone would do that, and House Representatives, in a rare consensus over anything containing immigrant wordage, agreed.
But something happened on the way to the Senate.
In the Senate, where a good number of Republicans, though not all, were ready to cast their vote for the amendment that included the ICHIA provision — they never got the opportunity.
Inexplicably, the Democrats dropped the ICHIA provision.
Nobody knows exactly why.
Hispanic organizations like the National Council of La Raza, who had been working for 10 years to get this provision restored, after it was removed during the welfare reform of 1997, and who were assured by the House leadership that the ICHIA would be included in the final legislation, are so disappointed with what Senate Democrats have done that they have pulled their support from the SCHIP bill.

Due to the deliberate omission of legal immigrant children from this legislation, NCLR will withdraw support for this version of the SCHIP reauthorization; it no longer does enough to address the barriers to health coverage that some of the poorest and most vulnerable children face. Restorations of health coverage access to legal immigrants have been supported by members of Congress from both parties, and many organizations have rallied for their enactment for more than a decade. Congress chose to drop the provisions in a battle of politics, providing the President with a greatly diminished SCHIP bill – which he is determined to veto. Latino children are the most uninsured children in the U.S. The message from Congress is that it proposes to modestly expand SCHIP while excluding a significant group of Latino children.

As it stands, the bill is likely to be vetoed by the President but it doesn’t erase the fact that the Democratic Party turned its back on the LEGAL immigrant community – of which, the majority are Latino.
Was it because they felt that endorsing this provision would portray them as too sympathetic or too closely aligned with the illegal immigration debate, even though this provision was all about legal immigrant children?
From our perspective, there was nothing to lose by endorsing this provision and everything to gain for the thousands of children who would have benefited from this coverage.
Without an explanation, it gives us all reason to pause and wonder just how aligned is the Democratic Party with Latinos.
For a party that is tripping over itself to prove they can rep la raza, they just fell flat on their face and, in the process, failed the first test — not to mention a whole generation who WILL one day be able to vote.
Unfortunately, for them, there’s not enough insurance available to guarantee that Latino families in desperate need of that coverage will forget or forgive this act which can either be viewed as cowardice or worse, indifference.
Either way, it calls into question how committed is the Democratic Party to Latinos?

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  • Horace
    September 25, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food and clothing and housing and medical care.”
    That’s true, but it isn’t up to the people of the U.S. to assure that Mexican nationals and other Latin Americans to provide it to them. Mexico is responsible for its own people. If you want to be critical, attack the Mexican government.
    Illegal aliens are not constituents of Congress. And even though you may be a large minority, it is the democratic way that the majority rules, within the bounds of the Constitution of course. Our Congress may for once look out for the general welfare of the nation, instead of pandering for the votes of people whose judgment is colored by their ethnic interests.

  • Hal
    September 25, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    Horace is right!! Illegals should get care in their home country—whereever it is!

  • Joseph j7uy5
    September 26, 2007 at 12:18 am

    Horace, Hal, try reading Ms. Treviño’s post carefully. She is talking specifically about legal immigrants. That means she is talking about people who are participating in the economy and therefore contributing to our general commonwealth. If they are contributing, should they not be entiteled to benefit?
    Second, the SCHIP proposal is intended to improve health. It is not in anyone’s best interest to have sick people around. Regardless of which side of the border they happen to be on. Disease does not respect borders.
    Third, the money that goes for this program remains here in the USA. It is recycled back into the US economy. It’s not like we are just giving the money away. Spending the money on immigrant health care will have a positive impact on the US economy. So don’t get all bent out of shape about this.

  • Horace
    September 26, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Ok, Joseph, but why turn this into an ethnic issue, when it ecompasses the nation as a whole? There are probably more non-Hispanic poor than Hispanic, considering the latter comprises only 10 percent of our legal citizen population? There is much greater political strength in being inclusive than ethnically partisan. Maybe she should speak in terms of finding commonalities between Hispanic needs and the rest of us, for we are all human beings with the same needs. Ideally, ours is not an “every man for himself” nation. We seem to forget that the preamble to the Constitution begins with “We The People..” This is why I become so dismayed when I hear ethnic groups competing for national resources in a agressive manner. When we fund our government and allocate our taxes there should be no reference to ethnicity or race.
    Actually, the statement “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food and clothing and housing and medical care” is a socialist mandate. Instead of right, it should read “opportunity”, as it is not incorporated in our Constitution. When you say “right”, that means the endowed persons, through the state have the authority to take wealth that “We The People” have earned and transfer it to others without their authority. Our Founding Fathers never included such authority in the Bill of Rights. When Ms. Travino can get her socialist “rights” through Congress as a Constitutional amendment, then it will become legitimate. In the mean time, her concerns should be addressed by voluntary means, through NGO and charities.

  • David O.
    September 26, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    Hey Horace,
    You wrote, “but why turn this into an ethnic issue”..
    This is a gentle reminder that this is a Latina blog, and it is about ethnic issues, specifically those affecting the Hispanic community. Is that too difficult to understand?
    Also please get off your republican white elephant and quit thundering in as a right wing know-it-all dismissing opinions, comments, or suggestions of others.
    I’m surprised that Marisa, puts up with you and allows your broken record posts. I would certainly not insult the owner of this blog.
    Don’t qoute ‘We the People’ as if you and your ilk are the only ones in possession of these worlds.

  • Horace
    September 26, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    “Don’t qoute ‘We the People’ as if you and your ilk are the only ones in possession of these worlds.” I doubt that you’ve ever even read the Constitution, and if I’d not referred to the document by its title, you’d still be in the dark as to the origin of “We The People”.
    What the hell does that mean? “We The People” means all the citizens, including people of your ilk.
    David O, your diatribe makes my point. You can’t stand having your views exposed to commentary by those expressing dissent. You’d like nothing better than to have this blog all to yourself in an orgy of self affirmation. How boring it is to sit around and express a view on an issue and always nod your heads like bobbleheads. Besides, this blog is Ms. Travino’s, not your’s. I take the risk that she’ll shut me out every time I provide an opinion. I suggest that you write her and submit your demands to censor me. Save your squeaky rebukes for someone else.
    I’ve been considering initiating my own ethnic blog, mainly representing the views persons of Anglo-Saxon-Germanic-Celtic-Afro American backgrounds. We’ll discuss how, during the first one hundred years of this nation we wrote the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and built this nation, all without the assistance of but a handful of Hispanics, if any. On second thought, perhaps it would be rude, as we wouldn’t want to make other ethnic groups jealous.

  • Frank
    September 26, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    Most everything posted in here is about illegal immigration. It has nothing to do with the legal Hispanic community so what is your gripe?
    I don’t see Latino issues any different than White, Black or Asian issues in this country. Don’t we all put on our pants the same way?

  • George
    September 27, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    I’d like to point out the fact that you have advocated a path to citizenship for millions of poverty level illegal alien Hispanics, most of who would benefit from the proposed free health care for their children and pregnant women. I would advise you to stop saying that there are no net adverse consequences to adopting these people, as they would clearly add to the devistatingly large tax bill that would be borne by the current citizens in this country by providing them with free health care.

  • George
    September 27, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    Horace is correct in his views on your so-called Declaration of Human Rights. Mexico, for example, is a poster child for violating this doctrine, yet we have advocacy groups siding with the Mexican government, as if we were responsible for taking care of its nationals. Most of the legal Hispanic poor that are now citizens in this country were participants in the 1986 amnesty, driven north by the failure of the Mexican government to further the implementation of the doctrine that Ms. Trevino quotes. And these are the same people who Ms. Trevino and advocacy groups assert to be net assets to our nation. Will the illegal immigrants she now champions once again become dependents of the state by requiring free medical care? Most certainly. Is it any wonder that non-Hispanics object?

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    October 24, 2007 at 5:37 am

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