June 13, 2013

WASHINGTON – Kathy Ko Chin, president and CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), issued a statement following Senator Mazie Hirono’s (Hawaii) speech on the Senate floor urging Senators to make immigration reform fair for immigrant taxpayers and women:

“As the first Asian American woman and only immigrant in the Senate, Sen. Hirono uniquely understands the contributions, challenges and hopes of the many immigrants who come to this country. Immigrants are the backbone of our nation’s economy, pumping in billions into Social Security and Medicare, growing businesses and creating strong communities.

For the first time in many years, we are poised to fix our broken immigration system in a real and comprehensive way. The Senate immigration bill (S. 744) offers an important start, but locks out aspiring citizens from the very safety-net programs they pay into for at least ten years. The effect is that, despite providing the economic support for programs like Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP and SNAP, immigrant taxpayers with legal status are ineligible. This exclusion can have devastating consequences on the health and economic security of immigrant families.

Sen. Hirono’s amendment today recognizes the economic contributions that aspiring citizens make to our nation’s economy and simply specifies that aspiring citizens who are lawfully present, paying taxes and working be eligible for the same federal safety-net programs their dollars support.

Sen. Hirono’s amendment is not only fair; it is good economic and public policy. Keeping everyone healthy and fed leads to healthier workers, stronger families and more productive citizens – something we should all be able to agree with.

We join Sen. Hirono in calling for fair and inclusive immigration reform that puts aspiring taxpaying citizens on equal footing and urge Congress to do the same.”