When strangers reside with you in your land, you shall not wrong them. The sojourners who reside with you shall be to you as your citizens; you shall love each one as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
— Leviticus 19:33-34
The insistence that we behave with care, equity, and love toward the stranger appears 36 times in Torah; it is the most-repeated command in the entire Torah. Our sacred texts insist that we turn our own historical experiences of being outsiders in many foreign lands into compassion for those experiencing the same today. As Jews and as human beings, we are obligated to make sure that those of us who were not born in our community are as safe, and as healthy, as those of us who were.
Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg writes, “It has been enacted that in every place in which Jews live, the community sets aside a fund for care of the sick” (Responsa Tzitz Eliezer, 8:11). All people deserve access to quality healthcare. The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), should be open to all Maryland residents, regardless of their immigration status.
The 2023 legislative session has adjourned! We and our partners helped pass legislation in the House to expand healthcare access to undocumented immigrants. Unfortunately, Senate leadership refused to move the bill forward. To learn more, click here.
- Undocumented Marylanders, their families, and our communities as a whole, especially Black and brown community members.
- Senate Finance (FIN), Chair: Melony Griffith (Prince George’s County)
- House Health & Government Operations (HGO), Chair: Jocelyn Peña-Melnyk (Prince George’s County)
2023 Legislative Details:
- Affordable Care Act Inclusion (SB365/HB588)
- Everyone should have access to the highest attainable standard of health services. No one should get sick or die because of their income or immigration status.
- Since its establishment in 2010, the Affordable Care Act has granted 28 million people across the country access to affordable care. However, more than 275,000 undocumented immigrants in Maryland are ineligible for care through the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.
- Passing this legislation would have required the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to establish and operate the Qualified Resident Enrollment Program, which would make qualified plans available to all Marylanders who meet the regular ACA eligibility criteria, regardless of their immigration status.
- Greater access to healthcare would reduce emergency room visits and mortality rates, as well as increase rates of early detection and improve the long-term management of chronic diseases and serious illnesses. This legislation would have made our state a safer, healthier place for all by reducing health inequities and preventing the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19.
- This bill was sponsored by Senator Clarence Lam and Delegate Bonnie Cullison. It passed in the House, but Senate President Bill Ferguson and Finance Chair Melony Griffith refused to move the bill forward.
Key Partners: CASA & Health Care For All Coalition
As we build on our organizing and advocacy from the past few years, JUFJ prioritizes deepening relationships with existing partners and coalitions and honoring the commitments we have made in past years. To maximize our effectiveness, we engage in a full scope of work on a limited number of campaigns, and impact other campaigns in a more limited way by submitting official JUFJ testimony and/or signing JUFJ’s name to a list of supporters.
For more information about our additional legislative positions, click here.
For more information about our agenda setting process for the Maryland 2023 state legislative session, click here.
MOLLY AMSTER MARYLAND POLICY DIRECTOR & BALTIMORE DIRECTOR
LAURA WALLACE MARYLAND ORGANIZING DIRECTOR & MONTGOMERY COUNTY DIRECTOR
MATAN ZEIMER MARYLAND SENIOR ORGANIZER
ELIANNA COOPER MARYLAND COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
Additional Legislative Positions:
In addition to JUFJ’s key legislative priorities this session, we support and will provide testimony on the following bill:
- Probation, Not Deportation (SB265) – This bill would provide equal access to justice for immigrant Marylanders by eliminating unintended immigration consequences from minor contacts with Maryland’s criminal justice system.
We oppose the following bill:
- SB404 – This bill excludes immigrant Marylanders from tax relief.