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On Both Coasts, Immigrants Demand Room at the Healthcare Reform Table
See video of Latino and Asian activists confronting staff of US Rep. Joe Wilson in Washington DC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4tJBQzO3jg
As the traditional American Thanksgiving holiday drew near, immigrant rights groups held actions in San Francisco and Washington DC to expose the unjust treatment of immigrants in both congressional and senate healthcare bills. In San Francisco, hundreds of people joined a vigil at House Speaker Pelosi’s office to urge her to fight against anti-immigrant amendments to bills in the face of extreme pressure from the right wing.
“Hey hey ho ho, the five year bar has go to go,” shouted Californians who came to demonstrate at Pelosi's office from as far as Los Angeles. In speeches, chants, and a song led by Las Abeulitas Enojadas, they urged Congress and the White House to repeal the five year waiting period for low-income legal immigrants to receive access to affordable health care.
At close to the same hour in Washington DC, a group of committed Asian Americans and Latinos confronted staff in the office of US Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina. Rep. Wilson has been a vocal opponent of government-subsidized health benefits to immigrants and is well-known for his outburst, "You lie!" during a speech by President Obama to a joint session of Congress. The activists gave Rep. Wilson their message in no uncertain terms: it is unconscionable to prohibit people from seeking affordable medical care based on immigration status. When a member of the delegation said that the congressman's policies are based on racism, one of Wilson's staff members retorted with an outburst of his own, saying "That's not true!" and turning his back on the group.
Summarizing the sentiment of the demonstrators, EunSook Lee, Executive Director of NAKASEC, the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, stated: “... 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.” NAKASEC was the key organizer of this week's bicoastal actions.
5 members of Las Abuelitas Enojadas, three of whom hold up a banner in this photo, led the demonstration in song.