For Immediate Distribution: 20 January 2023
Twitter thread of the day: click here
RICHMOND, VA – To kick off Virginia’s legislative session, immigrant rights organization CASA held a press conference followed by a day of lobbying, unveiling the group’s top priorities. CASA members across Virginia traveled to the capitol in Richmond to lobby for accessible healthcare, support for English language learners, and affordable housing.
Currently, 87% of CASA members are underinsured, making access to healthcare a top priority for Virginia immigrants. Members also advocated for paid sick leave, mental health public education, and rent stabilization.
“Many people have missed getting a medical checkup because they do not have insurance or do not have enough financial resources to go to a doctor and pay for a very expensive bill. It is concerning to me that children residing in the state of Virginia are also uninsured and face barriers to receiving medical care because they were not born in the United States and do not have legal status. Some of these children are our family or neighbors and will undoubtedly contribute to the continued success of our communities. However, they are being excluded from the health care system in Virginia,” Sandra Santacruz, CASA member, shared on access to healthcare in the Commonwealth.
“Today we announce the Legislative priorities of the immigrant community in Virginia. Legislators must listen to the needs of members of their communities, people who are building strong families and neighborhoods,” said CASA Executive Director, Gustavo Torres. “Members have traveled from across the state today to make their voices heard. They will not be ignored. This year, we must be a priority for Virginia.”
CASA members were joined by Delegate Kathy Tran HD42, Delegate Elizabeth Guzman HD31 , and Senator Jeremy McPike SD29.
“Today, I am proud to stand with CASA to build a better and more welcoming Virginia,” said Delegate Kathy Tran (D-Fairfax County). “Together, we are fighting to meet the needs of our English language learners in our public schools, expand health care to vulnerable children, and make sure that working families have affordable and stable housing.”
“I came to this country as a young single mother because I knew education was the key to providing a better life for my daughter and I could not afford the same opportunities in Peru,” said Delegate Elizabeth Guzman (D-Prince William County). “This country gave me an education, a career and a family, and I will always fight for other Latinos to have the same chance at economic freedom. That’s why I’ve championed legislation on paid sick leave, affordable housing, language access, in-state tuition for DACA students and more! One in 10 people in Virginia are Latino, many are essential workers who powered us through the pandemic, and we need to ensure our voices are heard and our hard work is rewarded.”
“I am happy to welcome CASA at the Virginia General Assembly,” said Senator Jeremy McPike (D-Prince William County). “CASA continues to advocate for vital legislation that will help the Latino, immigrant, and working-class community across Prince William County and the Commonwealth of Virginia. CASA continues to grow and make an impact helping these communities. Having CASA members here to share their story with my colleagues gives us another reason why we must continue advocating for accessible healthcare, investments to our English language learners, and affordable housing opportunities.”
Speakers at the rally also discussed the importance of English language education for adults and children.
“I am a farmer by profession originally from El Salvador and I immigrated to the United States approximately 17 years ago and since then Fairfax County has been my home. I am the father of three children and the owner of a gardening company where I employ four people. The growing success of Latino small business owners and Latino workers occurs at the same time that Latinos have become an economic force in the United States. As a result of that professional growth, it is important for me and my team to be more than proficient in the English language, since it is one of our most faced difficulties. Support for English language learners would help us carry out our work and everything we develop with higher clarity and quality,” said Nerbir Mancia, CASA member, speaking in support for English language learners.
With over 125,000 lifetime Latino, immigrant, and working-class members across 46 US states, CASA is the foremost immigrant organization with offices in Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and a national immigrant powerhouse. Visit us at www.wearecasa.org and follow us on Twitter at @CASAforall.