Illegals tell of hardship MEETING TOUCHES ON HEALTH CARE, DRIVER'S LICENSES By Paula J. Owen CORRESPONDENT FITCHBURG — Illegal immigrants told a government task force yesterday of the difficulties they face in day-to-day life in Massachusetts. Seven panelists, using translators, told the Governor’s Advisory Council on Immigrants and Refugees last night at Fitchburg High School of the problems their undocumented status causes them in education, public transportation, the workplace, health care, housing and transportation. Fitchburg panelist Oscar Zapata from Uruguay has lived in the United States 20 years. “As immigrants, many times we don’t have secure work,” he said. “We work through temp agencies that abuse us and don’t pay us minimum wage and don’t have benefits. We can’t complain about it or we get treated badly in the companies that we work at.” He said labor laws are not enforced for illegal immigrants. “We get threatened to lose our jobs if we try to confront these issues,” he said. “There is discrimination against people who do not speak English in the workplace. Because some of us do not have proper identification, we can’t go to banks to cash our checks and have to go to places that charge us 10 percent of our earnings.” Mr. Zapata said the state needs to respect workers and not make undocumented immigration status an obstacle. Passports, he said, should be sufficient to open a bank account and for cashing payroll checks. Most of the panelists cited illegal immigrants’ inability to obtain driver’s licenses and the lack of adequate public transportation as major obstacles. Miguel Marino, also a native of Uruguay, said he thinks illegal immigrants should be allowed to get driver’s licenses. Most immigrants, he said, are on the roads to get to work, but live in fear of getting stopped by police. “Some of us can’t even insure our cars, which is a law,” he said. “Many times police detain or stop us because we don’t have licenses, not because of a traffic violation. People drive with fear, but have to do it out of necessity. Not all police officers know how to treat immigrants with respect or treat them as a person.” Panelist Teresita Bueno said illegal immigrants cannot get health care in Massachusetts since they lack a Social Security number or proper identification. Many receive inadequate health care, and wrong or incomplete diagnoses result from this, she said. Additionally, translators are not always available. “This type of treatment is mostly seen in the emergency room when translation is needed,” she said. “Many times doctors or employees make decisions for patients without consulting them.” Alicia Alvez from Paraguay has lived in the United States 20 years. She said she represented many people in the audience. She said illegal immigrants are not part of civic life and are not informed about what is happening in government. “What this means to us is that the state does not value us,” she said. She added that a problem hurting many undocumented parents is that when their children graduate from high school they cannot drive, work or go to college because of their status. LINK TO FULL T&G ARTICLE 184 comments | Add a comment Well this is a gem of an article from the T&G. As if the rag is not socialist and liberal enough, they print this piece of garbage article? Maybe someone from ICE should pay these illegals a visit, seeing they are so willing to shove it in everyone's face in the newspaper they have been criminals for 20 years and have the audacity to complain in a public forum.