Immigrants fight for right to unionize and vote; Hospitals grapple with how to serve undocumented, 7/23-7/30

1 Aug

Immigrant workers on strike in Wisconsin – for the right to unionize
Workers at Palermo’s frozen pizza factory in Wisconsin have been on strike since June 1, protesting the mass firing of 89 workers in May. At that time, 150 employees submitted a petition to Palermo’s indicating the intent to unionize. After workers submitted their petition, the company asked workers for legal documentation of their ability to work in the US – in cooperation with ICE, and then fired the majority of them. Labor organizers, arguing that the move was intended to prevent workers from unionizing, filed a complaint with ICE. ICE stayed the enforcement action that ended with the workers firing. This decision was in line with a December 2011 agreement between ICE and the Department of Labor to prevent ICE from engaging in enforcement efforts tied to labor disputes, and was the first time ICE has granted such an action. Workers are asking supporters to boycott Palermo’s products.

Pennsylvania voters seek injunction on voter ID law
Ten Pennsylvania voters are going to court to seek an injunction on Pennsylvania’s voter ID law, testifying that they were denied identification and, therefore, under the new law, the right to vote. A study conducted by the Washington Institute for the Study of Ethics, Race and Sexuality estimates that 1.3 million people in the state (over 14% of the voter-eligible population) do not have ID. The outcome of the Pennsylvania ruling is being closely watched, as states and courts around the country debate a number of voting laws with severe implications for the rights of communities of color and immigrant communities. To find out what is happening with voting rights in your state, check out this voting rights website in The Nation.

Access to healthcare for undocumented immigrants at risk under health care reform
Undocumented immigrants are not covered by health care reform, and there are concerns that coverage will decline as the law comes into effect. Currently, the Federal government reimburses safety-net hospitals for many of the services that are accessed by low-income communities; but these reimbursements will be cut as more individuals purchase health insurance or enroll in Medicaid. For hospitals that serve large numbers of undocumented immigrants, cuts in Federal reimbursement will make it increasingly difficult to provide care. For undocumented immigrants, who are unable to purchase insurance on the private market, this will further reduce already limited access to adequate health care services. As health care reform moves forward following the Supreme Court decision, hospitals are beginning to plan for the reduced funding and advocate for solutions that will enable them to continue providing care.

Candidates and advertisers increasingly turn to Spanish-language media
Univision and Telemundo, the largest Spanish-language television outlets in the country, are increasingly targeted in electoral media campaigns. Both stations hosted interviews with Barack and Michelle Obama and Mitt Romney. The stations are receiving a much larger share of political advertising money than in prior elections.The increasing interest in Spanish-language media is one more sign of the candidates efforts to win Latino and immigrant votes – a key constituency in November’s election.

Undocumented individuals travel to DNC to raise awareness of harmful immigration policies
A group of undocumented immigrants began a trip around the country on Monday to bring the issue of immigration policy to the center of electoral politics. The riders on the UndocuBus plan to travel through states with the harshest immigration laws – in time to bring their message to the Democratic National Convention.

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