Immigration in the news
Some immigration-related news stories kicking around lately:
Immigrants use US medical facilities in emergencies
USA Today reports that Mexicans routinely drive across the US border to use emergency rooms in the US, then frequently fail to pay the resulting medical bills:
Along the border from Chula Vista, Calif., to Brownsville, Texas, U.S. hospitals serve as a medical safety net for undocumented immigrants and residents of northern Mexico. Each year, their care costs American medical centers, consumers and taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. During 2002, 38 Arizona medical centers surveyed by the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association reported losses on foreign-national patients of $153 million.
After years of pressure from the health care industry, the federal government last week announced a plan to repay hospitals across the USA for up to 30% of the unpaid bills they rack up for such patients from now through 2008. The payback could total $1 billion. Arizona hospitals stand to receive $45 million a year.
Hospitals are required by law to treat all emergency patients, regardless of nationality or legal status.
Jim Dickson, chief executive officer at Copper Queen hospital, says he is happy to care for anyone who is sick or injured. But about 15% of his patients are poor Mexican nationals, and financial losses have been excruciating for a little hospital in Bisbee (population 6,000).
“We had super-deficits the last two years,” says Dickson, who solved his budget crisis by laying off about 35 of the hospital’s 130 employees and eliminating medical services such as the long-term care center. “This has had a very negative impact on our hospital.”
Dickson says some pregnant women from Naco used to cross the border after going into labor, obtaining the best medical care plus citizenship for a newborn child.
That’s no longer a problem because financial losses forced Copper Queen to close its maternity ward.
I’m all for everyone having access to medical care, but what to make of a healthcare burden created by people who don’t pay into the system?
More border vigilantism
The Washington Times reports that the Minuteman Project is expanding to California, beginning in August. “more than 500 volunteers have signed up to patrol areas of the California-Mexico border in August”.
More than a dozen Border Patrol agents told The Washington Times last week that agents in Naco, Ariz., had been ordered not to arrest illegal aliens along the section patrolled by the Minutemen because an increase in apprehensions after the volunteers left would prove the effectiveness of their border vigil. They said supervisors at the Naco station instructed them during daily briefings that arrests were “not to go up.”
[The Minuteman's] goal was to show that increased manpower on the border effectively would deter illegal immigration. Organizers said the protest resulted in Border Patrol arrests of 349 illegal aliens, and Border Patrol field agents said the flow of illegal aliens through the targeted area dropped from 500 apprehensions a day to about 15 a day.
The supervisors blamed the volunteers for unnecessarily tripping sensors, disturbing draglines and interfering with the normal operations of the agents. They said their impact on illegals was “negligible,” adding that civilians should leave immigration enforcement “to the professionals.”
Alabama Sued for Offering Multiple-Language Driver Exams
Southeastern Legal Foundation filed the lawsuit on behalf of five Alabama residents who belong to a group called ProEnglish. The suit says Alabama’s current multiple-language policy violates Amendment 509 of the Alabama Constitution, which makes English the state’s official language.