By Jada May

Bright and early on Thursday, City Councilmember Mark Levine spoke at the Workmen’s Circle Breakfast with Ann Toback, discussing issues such as immigration, healthcare, and the need to care about everyone in America.

Levine, who represents a district in upper Manhattan, spoke about health care and focused on undocumented immigrants. Levine wants all immigrants to have health insurance including those who are undocumented. In worst case scenarios, immigrants who are not medically covered wait until they are gravely ill before going to the hospital, often to the emergency room. Luckily for undocumented immigrants, in New York City hospital emergency rooms can’t turn down anyone who is in medical need.

But there is no promise of long-term of help after the emergency is dealt with. Prevention is important, Levine said. He says undocumented immigrants should have primary doctors to help them become and stay healthy.

Working with his colleagues, Levine is putting together an legislation that will build a program to reach every immigrant in New York City.

The Green Light NY: Driving Together campaign is to help give everyone driving licenses in New York, regardless of immigration status. There are currently 750,000 immigrants in New York State without documentation who are unable to apply for a driver license. Driving is such a necessity for everyone, including undocumented immigrants, who sometimes don’t have a choice but to get behind the wheel, and so they do so illegally.

Unfortunately, a lot of undocumented people get caught driving without an license and get sent to detention centers, often separated from their families. The Green Light NY campaign would help put an end to that issue. “If that don’t sound like an sensible policy, not to mention it’s a human benefits for someone who can now drive, then I don’t know what is.” Levine said that will bring millions of dollars in revenue to the state and yield other benefits also, such as slightly lowering car insurance for all drivers.

Levine also touched on the latest health crisis of the measles in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn. This is the worst outbreak for New York state in three decades, he pointed out. “We are averaging four cases a day, entirely children,” he said. Regarding those who are not permitting their children to be vaccinated, Levine said, “They are buying into conspiracies of what have been proven repeatedly a safe vaccine.” Luckily there have been no reports on fatalities from the 285 reported cases.

Workmen’s Circle was started by progressive-minded Jewish immigrants in 1900. Today they work for all Americans and fight for dignity, economic rights of immigrants, fairness in labor practices and decent health care for all.