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Immigration News Today: Rep. Luis Gutierrez Bill to Allow Immigrants to Access Obamacare

First Posted: Sep 30, 2015 12:40 PM EDT
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Pope Francis’ historic visit to the U.S., including his address to Congress, appears to have resonated with Latino congressional lawmakers. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., introduced the Exchange Inclusion for a Healthy America Act (EIHA), which provides people access to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), regardless of an individual's immigration status.

"He [Pope Francis] inspired a lot of people, even in cynical Washington, D.C.," said Gutierrez during a House floor speech on Wednesday morning. He later added, "But the Pope's visit certainly inspired me to think about the moral examples he sets," acknowledging the pontiff's remarks about the "Golden Rule" -- "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Gutierrez said there is a call to treat everyone with compassion. For the Illinois congressman, the call was to improve health care and access to medical insurance through the ACA, often referred to as Obamacare.

"It gives them [immigrants] access to the health care exchanges in Obamacare under the ordinary rules of residency in the states in which they live and makes them eligible for subsidies if and when they file taxes -- just like the rest of us. It also subjects them to the individual mandate that requires individuals to have health insurance," said Gutierrez. "The goal is to make integration and inclusion real for millions of families that are locked out under current law."

Currently, as Gutierrez recognized during his speech, immigrants are not eligible for the ACA, even if immigrants used their own money. Gutierrez said his EIHA legislation will represent a message of "inclusion," understanding that immigrants are working, caring and contributing to society.

"Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you means moving forward with no restrictions on which brother and sister and neighbor we think of as 'eligible' or 'deserving' or is in fact considered 'my' neighbor or 'my' sister or 'my' brother," said Gutierrez.

Similar to the statement he issued when Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced his resignation, Gutierrez reiterated his hopes for the Ohio congressman to act on immigration reform. Gutierrez, however, admitted it is unlikely for immigration reform to be introduced due to the current "hysteria" on the presidential campaign, which may have negatively influenced congressional Republicans. He believes there are enough votes to pass immigration reform, but does not believe Boehner will allow the vote.

Gutierrez's bill comes a few days after fellow Congressional Hispanic Caucus member Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard introduced two immigration-related bills. Roybal-Allard said her bills also follows Pope Francis' message for cooperation. Her bills, H.R. 3605 and H.R. 3606, calls for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to provide improved legal protections and treatment for detained immigrants.

Gutierrez and Roybal-Allard were among the eight House Democrats, including Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California and Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, who visited two immigrant detention centers in Texas last June.

As Latin Post reported, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed four million U.S. Latinos have gained health access since the introduction of the ACA in 2010.

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For the latest updates, follow Latin Post's Politics Editor Michael Oleaga on Twitter: @EditorMikeO or contact via email: m.oleaga@latinpost.com.

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