For Immediate Release
November 23, 2009
L. Sookyung Oh, 202-567-1397 (English)
Yongho Kim, 323-244-5309 (Korean, Spanish)
Making Room for Everyone at the Health Reform Table
Immigrant Communities Urge Speaker Pelosi to Stand Strong for Inclusive Health Reform
(Washington, D.C.) Today, immigrant communities staged two events in San Francisco, CA and Washington, D.C. to draw attention to how millions of Americans are being shut out of health reform, despite their undisputed contributions to supporting this country’s economy and public health care systems.
Organized by the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and its two affiliates, the Korean Resource Center (KRC) in Los Angeles and the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC) in Chicago, nearly 250 people attended the health care rally in San Francisco in front of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and 40 people participated in a direct action at Representative Joe Wilson’s D.C. office.
“Increasing access to care for immigrant communities reduces net costs by increasing primary prevention and reducing the emphasis on emergency care for preventable conditions. Further, the cost of health insurance within the exchanges will be that much higher if people are prevented from contributing to pooled risk. Unfortunately, the Senate bill released last week falls far short of the House bill with regards to immigrant inclusion. Once again, immigrants continue to become the scapegoats and, if not corrected, this will result in a poisoning of the health care debate and the blocking of the real progress Americans need,” stated EunSook Lee, executive director of NAKASEC. “Speaker Nancy Pelosi demonstrated pivotal leadership by standing strong against pressure from both sides of the aisle and the White House to exclude people from health reform. Today we are here in San Francisco representing millions of people in this country in support of health reform and urging her to remain strong.”
Leading up to today’s actions, community and faith organizations collected 6,340 petitions from across the country in less than two weeks. These petitions were delivered to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the White House, and other key members of Congress.
“What we want is simple: everyone living and working hard in this country must have full access to affordable health insurance. It is disappointing and frankly unbelievable that legal immigrants have to wait five years for public health care and that the Senate seeks to deny undocumented immigrants ability to purchase with their own money health insurance through the exchanges,” stated Dae Joong Yoon, executive director of KRC.
In San Francisco, a bus from Los Angeles, CA of mostly Korean American immigrant seniors made the 8-hour bus trip. Youth and parents from Chinatown to San Jose carried placards reading “I want to be healthy” and “Five years to wait will be too late” and rallied around chants like “Hey hey, ho ho, 5 year bar has got to go!” Traditional Korean percussion also punctuated this positive and lively health care rally.
“We are here for action, not inaction,” stated Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. “We are tired of obstructionist anti-immigrant attacks and want to part of new and vibrant solutions to our nation’s problems.”
That same day, a small contingent of community members and staff from CASA de Maryland and NAKASEC organized a direct action in Representative Joe Wilson’s office in Washington, D.C.
“Rep. Joe Wilson symbolizes the worst of anti-immigrant rhetoric as he advocates for policies that exclude the most vulnerable and those with the least income from being able to seek and pay for their fair share for quality, affordable medical treatment. What we need is health care, not hate,” stated Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA de Maryland.
Photos of events can be accessed at:
NAKASEC is a national organization founded in 1994 by local Korean American community organizations to project a national progressive voice and promote the full civic participation of Korean Americans as part of a greater goal of building a national movement for social change. Based in Los Angeles, NAKASEC opened a D.C. office in fall 2008 and has affiliates in L.A. (KRC) and Chicago (KRCC).
Endorsing organizations: National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, Korean Resource Center, Korean American Resource & Cultural Center, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Asian Health Services, Asian Law Caucus, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, CASA de Maryland, California Immigrant Policy Center, California Partnership, Chinatown Community Development Center, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Chinese Progressive Association, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles, Having Our Say, Idaho Community Action Network, Korean Community Center of the East Bay, Make the Road New York, New York Immigration Coalition, National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association, Northwest Federation of Community Organizations, One America, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, Rural Organizing Project, Service Employees International Union Local 721, Service, Immigrants Rights, & Education Network, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, Washington Community Action Network