Yesterday, with the vote on the universal healthcare bill H.202, we saw politics at its best and at its worst. At its best, because the participation of thousands of Vermonters in the Healthcare Is a Human Right campaign convinced a strong majority in the Senate to pass a historic universal healthcare bill. At its worst, because a majority of senators also approved an amendment to make the bill less than universal, in a cynical political move to appeal to hatred and intolerance.
In a last minute amendment, the Vermont Senate voted 22-8 to exclude one of Vermont's most vulnerable populations, undocumented farm workers. The amendment was introduced by Senator Brock (Franklin County) and Senator Sears (Bennington County).
From the debate on the Senate floor it seemed that there were a number of Senators who misunderstood the implications of the amendment. But it should come as no surprise that just as we are establishing the commitment to universal healthcare there was a last desperate attempt to undermine our social solidarity by pitting Vermonters against each other. To our knowledge, if passed this would be the first Vermont law to discriminate against people because of their federal immigration status and would set a very bad precedent.
We need to send a loud and clear message that Vermont is not Arizona (which passed a law last year to criminalize and scapegoat immigrant communities). When we say healthcare is human right, we mean for everybody who lives and works in Vermont regardless of legal status. We will not tolerate racial profiling and accept the unjust immigration and foreign policies of the federal government. We can do better than that. That is what our universal healthcare system is about. It would not be universal if groups are left out based on this kind of criteria. When we say health care for all, we mean for all!
1. Contact Your Legislator
Call the Sgt-at-arms at 802-828-2228 to tell your legislator that Vermont is not Arizona, that healthcare is a human right and farm workers need healthcare, too.
If you aren’t sure of who your Representatives or Senators are, you can go here: http://leg.state.vt.us/legdir/findmember3.cfm
Click HERE to email your Senators and Representatives all at once! Make sure to add in your own thoughts/words to the email
2. Help with Open Letter of Organization, Faith and Community Leaders: Go here: http://www.workerscenter.org/no_to_Brock_Sears_amendment
3. Come to May 1st Rally: At 11am on Sunday, May 1, 2011 thousands of Vermonters will meet at City Hall at 39 Main Street to march for universal healthcare. Join us! www.workerscenter.org/may1 Check out a video update about the campaign at www.workerscenter.org/peoplesstruggle
MORE INFO: Contact the VWC at 861-4892 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the lives of Vermont's migrant farmworkers, why they come to work in Vermont, and why Vermont's dairy industry needs them, visit our allies at The Vermont Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project.