Time after time have I seen lawmakers pass bills that affect me as an LGBT self-identified youth of color, without taking my opinion into consideration, which is why I have become an advocate for social justice. I grew up in what one would call the “ghetto,” and I didn’t actually realize the conditions I was living in until my parents decided to move homes. In retrospect, I now realize that I was living in a community of mostly undocumented families like my own. Furthermore, I took notice of the fact that most of us didn’t actually visit the doctor: not because we didn’t want to, but because we had no access to reliable healthcare. So, it was up to the yerberias (herbal stores) and whatever pills grandma could bring from Mexico on her visits to keep my family and me “healthy.” However, I know there must be a safer, more equitable way for the United States to provide healthcare to undocumented citizens, and there is: the inclusion of healthcare access in immigration reform policies.
The United States is at a point in time in which addressing social policy issues, including Immigration, is both urgent and inevitable. In all honesty, I don’t see why it is an issue in the first place, because the United States ultimately is not the property of a white man of European descent, but rather of those native to this land. However now, in the 21st century I like many others, believe that the land is property of the people: all people, regardless of their racial descent. Nonetheless, here we are, advocating and preaching for the equality of all people. Advocates follow comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level with attentive eyes and hopeful minds, without considering that proposed legislation does not include increasing access to healthcare for undocumented citizens who will be most affected by the bill.
As a nation, we tend to look past deeper issues which are well engraved into our society: it’s not only a lack of access to health services but to sexual health services that negatively affects undocumented citizens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers data which expresses the discrepancies among Latino communities. Pregnancies among Latina teenagers are still higher than those of any other group of people, and have been for years and years. What is truly unsettling and gut wrenching for me is that the lack of resources and healthcare options not only affects Latino communities, but many other undocumented citizens as well. This includes citizens from Eastern Africa, Asia, South America, the Middle East and more.
Here’s my question: How can legislators and people in power expect the progression of all communities within in our country to flourish when undocumented citizens are offered false and incomplete promises? These citizens will not receive healthcare, a safe facility to go to if we contract an STI or become pregnant, and most importantly, will still not be given equal access to essential opportunities. Any attempts to mend the issue of immigration cannot be done without addressing the inclusion of access to healthcare for undocumented citizens. As a nation, we cannot expect the undocumented community to graduate, pursue higher education and succeed, if we will not provide all communities with quality, equitable access to health care. The answer is simple: include access to holistic and equitable healthcare in our country’s immigration reform policies that will not only provide opportunities, but will encompass what a comprehensive immigration reform is: not just a license and job permit but quality education, pathway to citizenship, comfortable living conditions, and access to healthcare.
To conclude, yes it is true that the lawmakers of the United States seem to be moving in the right direction, but as for the undocumented community, we cannot settle for less. We cannot settle for just a license and job permit because we are worthy of equal opportunities just as any other citizen. We are eligible for pathway to citizenship, education, jobs, and healthcare. The cycles of marginalization within undocumented families will stop when the nation addresses both immigration and healthcare in an all-encompassing reformative policy