Immigrant group decries Hochul for neglecting healthcare needs of immigrant New Yorkers

New York Governor Kathy Hochul holds a news conference in New York City
New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during a news conference amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., Dec. 14, 2021.
REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), an umbrella advocacy group that represents over 200 immigrant groups in the state, says that while Gov. Kathy Hochul commits to legal and language access services, she neglects healthcare needs of immigrant New Yorkers.

“Today, Gov. Kathy Hochul unveiled her State of the State Budget Book. The book includes an increase in funding for The Liberty Defense Project, which provides free legal assistance and representation to immigrants outside of New York City, and increased funding for the Office of New Americans — funding that is critical to keeping New York families together,” the group said Wednesday. 

NYIC noted that Gov. Hochul also announced the codification of a statewide language access policy and the creation of a new Office for Language Access, “which will provide vital assistance in developing and implementing a strongest-in-the-nation language access law.” 

While these measures are critical to immigrant New Yorkers, NYIC said “Gov. Hochul failed to address the critical need to expand health care coverage and unemployment benefits to every New Yorker, regardless of their immigration status.” 

Pointing to numerous reports outlining the essential role New York’s immigrants play in the State’s economy and its ongoing battle against COVID-19, immigrant advocates expressed dismay at the governor’s omission. 

“Gov. Hochul’s commitment to increase funding for immigrant legal services and expand New York’s language access services means more families will stay together and successfully navigate their state government,” Murad Awawdeh, NYIC’s executive director, told Caribbean Life. 

“As the Omicron variant overwhelms our hospitals and threatens to cripple our economy, Albany must do more to ensure the health of every New Yorker, regardless of their immigration legal status,” he said. “For over two years, our communities have fought on the front lines against the most devastating global pandemic in living memory. 

“Throughout this fight, thousands of immigrant New Yorkers continue to be denied health care because of their immigration status,” Awawdeh added. “This injustice poses grave consequences for New York’s families, communities, and economic recovery. 

“Gov. Hochul must move now to secure the passage of Coverage for All to ensure the full health and recovery of the State,” he urged. 

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