Read our interview with Alvaro M. Huerta of NILC & critical policy news.
Read our interview with Alvaro M. Huerta of NILC & critical policy news.
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March 1, 2018 | Volume 22, No. 2 | Archives
Creating a Safe Space Is Advocacy
A Discussion with Alvaro M. Huerta of the National Immigration Law Center
National Immigration Law Center
Image Courtesy of the National Immigration Law Center
Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) clinics provide care for individuals regardless of their ability to pay or immigration status. Yet the increasing threat of immigration enforcement has raised concerns within our community. In an effort to identify opportunities for advocacy and collaboration, National HCH Council Policy Organizer Regina Reed spoke with staff attorney Alvaro M. Huerta of the National Immigration Law Center about the intersection of poverty and immigration policy.
Regina (R): Let’s start with our common ground. The goal and mission of the National HCH Council is to prevent and end homelessness. How do immigration policies relate to poverty and homelessness?
Alvaro (A): There are many policy issues that are directly related. A major one is family reunification. Our current system emphasizes this. When you’re able to join friends and family it makes it easier to stay housed and be a part of a community. On the flip side, we have deportation policies that lead to parents being deported. This pulls the rug out from under a family and can push them into homelessness. Another major policy issue is eligibility for public benefits. Most immigrants are not eligible for public benefits for the first five years, which makes it much harder to stay afloat.
“I have patients who are undocumented, and I feel I can no longer reassure them that seeking health care in the U.S. is safe. People are being deported and laws are changing. I try my best to deliver high-quality health care in this charged political climate, and my patients continue--despite this climate--to trust me, and for this I am continuously grateful.”
— Joy Favuzza, Nurse Practitioner at Care for the Homeless, New York, NY
R: Storytelling and sharing lived experiences is an important part of our work at the National HCH Council. This is also paramount to the work you do. Can you tell us more about that?
A: When we have policy debates on immigration, the people affected by the policy are often not included. It’s important that they speak about their own story. At NILC, we do that through a podcast called the Butterfly Story Collective, where we empower immigrant plaintiffs to take the lead and share how they are affected, which builds empathy with the public. It’s incredibly powerful--showing the public the bigger story--especially for Dreamers. The story is not just about themselves but about the adult parents who brought them here, who also have dreams. Sharing stories is brave--some people may face negative consequences.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Read the Full Interview
For more information, view our May 2017 webinar Immigration Enforcement and Health Centers: Knowing Your Rights as a Provider and join us at our 2018 National HCH Conference & Policy Symposium from May 15-18 in Minneapolis, MN, where Alvaro Huerta will be presenting on this issue alongside experienced HCH providers. Register to learn and network with hundreds of colleagues from across the U.S. at this singular annual gathering of clinicians, consumers, administrators, advocates, and policymakers.
News to Know
President’s Budget Proposal Calls for Cuts to Medicaid and Affordable Housing: While presidential budget requests rarely become law, they send a powerful message to Congress and the country about the administration’s priorities. Troublingly, the President’s budget blueprint would exacerbate homelessness while limiting our efforts to end the homelessness of those we serve. Learn more about what’s in the budget request on health care and housing.
The Administration May Push Work Requirements in Housing: Soon after the Medicaid program began approving work requirements for health coverage (learn more under Take Action) a leaked document divulged that the Department of Housing and Urban Development may allow public housing agencies and owners of Section 8 rentals to impose work requirements on tenants. Read more about the damaging implications of this proposal from our partners at the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Cities Open Safe Injection Sites Amidst Controversy: The opioid crisis and harm reduction approaches are nothing new to the HCH community. Recently, cities have responded to the crisis by opening safe injection sites, and many localities have legislation pending to legalize them. Read more about the influx of this evidence-based approach from Vox.
Single-Payer Proposals Gains Traction: A month after Senator Sanders held a virtual town hall meeting on his single-payer plan (which drew over one million viewers), the Center for American Progress released their version of single-payer, called Medicare Extra. Designed to gradually absorb Medicaid and displace private insurance, Medicare Extra would be available to all Americans. The National HCH Council supports all efforts to expand affordable and comprehensive health coverage and will provide feedback to lawmakers on how various proposals help or hinder efforts to end homelessness.
Gun Violence Is a Public Health Crisis: Following the tragic massacre in Parkland, FL, young survivors displayed remarkable courage and inspired advocates across the country by championing policies to prevent such senseless tragedies. Gun violence is hardly isolated to such incidents, and individuals without homes experience greater rates of violence than their housed counterparts. The National HCH Council stands with our partners in public health to call for commonsense, evidence-based solutions.
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Regina Reed, MPH
National Health Policy Organizer
National HCH Council
Baltimore, MD
(443) 703-1337 
Take Action!
Speak Out Against Work Requirements (and Other Harmful Provisions)
On January 11, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a letter to state Medicaid Directors providing guidance on work requirements as a condition for Medicaid eligibility. This week the Council is issuing a new publication on how work requirements and other provisions such as lifetime caps and copays are harmful for the HCH community. We encourage you to speak out if your state is considering these provisions. Find out what your state is doing and find contact info for your state Governor’s office. Currently, nine states have proposals awaiting approval (AR, AZ, IN, KS, ME, NH, UT, WI, MS).
Learn More
Schedule A Meeting Over Congressional Recess (March 26-April 6)
Members will be home for two weeks. Take advantage of the opportunity to show lawmakers the work we do on the ground and build relationships on your home turf. Find and track local town hall events. We strongly encourage you to invite your member for a site visit or schedule a meeting with them in their local office. You can find an example invitation letter, call your member through the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak to a scheduler, or contact and we’ll put you in contact with a Congressional staff member.
Get In Touch
This publication and all HCH advocacy are funded by dues from Organizational Members of the Council and by private donations. Consider joining the Council to support this work.
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National Heatlh Care for the Homeless Council
PO Box 60427 | Nashville, TN 37206 US
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