The following post is a repost from a newsletter from The Advocates for Human Rights, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting human rights.
Hot Topic: 2011 Legislative Session Threatens Respect for Human Rights of All Minnesotans
By Michele Garnett McKenzie, The Advocates for Human Rights
Immigration Enforcement: An array of anti-immigrant legislation was introduced during Minnesota’s 2011 legislative session. Bills to designate English as Minnesota’s official language, outlaw community policing policies designed to protect crime victims and witnesses, and create new document fraud crimes were heard. Collaborative advocacy helped defeat all but one: contractors with the State of Minnesota must certify that they have taken steps to implement the federal E-Verify program for all newly hired employees (See State Government Finance Bill, H.F. 27/S.F. 12).
An eleventh-hour proposal to mandate Minnesota’s participation in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “Secure Communities” program was vetoed and kept out of the public safety bill signed by the governor. This controversial program, which runs fingerprints of people arrested against federal immigration databases, has come under fire from participating jurisdictions around the country and currently is the subject of an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General.
Legal Services in Immigration Cases: Appropriations for civil legal services in Minnesota were dramatically reduced. A threatened prohibition on providing legal services in federal cases, including immigration cases, was removed from the compromise signed into law. Under new legislation, state-funded legal services must give priority to clients with state law civil matters. (See Judiciary and Public Safety Bill, H.F. 1/S.F. 1).
Medical Assistance for Noncitizens: New legislation, effective January 1, 2012, changes noncitizens’ eligibility for state-funded medical assistance. Eligibility for federally-funded medical assistance programs is not affected.
Lawful permanent residents, people paroled into the United States on humanitarian grounds, and battered spouses and children will no longer qualify for state-funded medical assistance. State-funded medical assistance for people admitted as refugees or granted asylum or withholding of removal, and honorably discharged veterans and noncitizens serving on active duty and their families remains unchanged.
The legislature also eliminated state-funded medical assistance for some people who are “lawfully present” in the United States, as defined by federal regulations. Beginning January 1, 2012, people in the United States under temporary protected status, deferred enforced departure, and applicants for asylum no longer qualify for medical assistance.
Medical services for undocumented people in Minnesota also were limited. Emergency medical conditions are now defined in the statute and exclude numerous treatments, including nonemergency care delivered in an emergency room, chemotherapy, dialysis, and other therapies.
The legislature also changed medical assistance eligibility rules for non-citizen children and pregnant women. Undocumented women will qualify for medical assistance through the period of pregnancy, including labor and delivery, and for 60 days of post-partum care only to the extent federal funds are available through title XXI of the Social Security Act and the state children’s health insurance program (See Health and Human Services Bill, H.F. 25/S.F. 10).
Other Funding Cuts Affecting Minnesota’s Newcomers: The legislature cut funding for crime victim services, including immigrant crime victims, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, and state councils of color, and took steps to end K-12 school integration funding.
|Highlighted Resource: The Advocates Releases First Edition of Discover Human Rights Training ManualThe Advocates for Human Rights has released its first edition of Discover Human Rights: A Human Rights Approachto Social Justice, a training manual designed to help civil society organizations in the United States use human rights principles to combat entrenched poverty, discrimination, and injustice.This manual, intended for U.S. social justice advocates, provides concrete steps for integrating international human rights principles into their work from framing the issues to identifying human rights-based strategies to ensure these rights are fulfilled for people.
Using a participatory methodology, the manual combines short presentations with interactive activities including large group discussions, small group work, and role playing.
Co-author Madeline Lohman sees the training manual as a potentially transformative tool: “By adopting a human rights approach, social justice advocates can change the way we view injustices like poverty and discrimination – not as the result of bad personal choices or bad luck, but as a systematic failure of our society to ensure that all people can live in dignity.”
To download a free PDF of the manual, please visit www.discoverhumanrights.org/training.html. To order a hard copy or schedule a training session, please contact Madeline Lohman at 612-341-3302 or firstname.lastname@example.org.