March 21, 2017 | Press Release

Nadeau Bills Support the Health of D.C.’s Immigrant Population - Office of Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau

“This is a frightening time for many of my immigrant constituents,” said Councilmember Nadeau. “These bills will help support our community by making it easier for immigrant residents to maintain health care coverage and will help support our community organizations who are working to provide mental health and substance abuse treatment at this very important time.”

“The District of Columbia has made a strong commitment to include all residents in the fabric of the city,” said Alicia Wilson, Executive Director of La Clínica del Pueblo.  “These two bills will help deliver on this commitment, by reducing some of the inequities that still exist in our safety net. Many don’t realize that immigrants must navigate a ‘separate and unequal’ system to maintain their health benefits and that there is a woeful lack of behavioral health services targeted to the immigrant community. La Clínica del Pueblo applauds these steps toward building a more equitable system for all.”

The D.C. HealthCare Alliance Program Recertification Simplification Amendment Act of 2017 eases the existing requirement that enrollees must recertify in person every six months to retain coverage. This in-person interview requirement imposes a significant burden on program enrollees. Enrollees must often take time off work to wait in line at DHS, and some must return because they are not seen on the first day. The bill eases the process by allowing enrollees to complete the interview either with a qualified community health organization or over the phone with DHS. The bill was co-introduced by Councilmembers R. White, Grosso, Allen, Silverman, Bonds, and Cheh and co-sponsored by Councilmembers McDuffie, Evans, T. White, and Gray.

The Study of Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Immigrant Communities Act of 2017 calls for a study to evaluate the impact of the federal government’s actions on our immigrant residents’ mental health and need for substance abuse treatment. The need for the bill arose from conversations with community partners and the Councilmember’s recent forums on immigrant rights. The study will help the District allocate resources appropriately to support our immigrant community. The bill was co-introduced by Councilmember Elissa Silverman and co-sponsored by Councilmember Charles Allen.

Ward 1 is the most diverse ward in the District and has a large immigrant population. Councilmember Nadeau has been on the forefront of efforts to support the District’s immigrant population. In the last month, she hosted two standing room only community forums on immigrants’ rights where experts gave residents information about the current state of affairs and about their rights as residents. She recently introduced legislation to provide immigration legal services at no charge for the District’s low income or underserved documented and undocumented immigrant residents. She is also using her oversight power to make sure the District has clear procedures in place to protect the sensitive personal information of immigrant residents. The Council recently passed a resolution authored by the Councilmember opposing federal immigration raids.