- 2012elections - 9/11 Special Coverage - aca - africanamericanalzheimers - aids - Alabama News Network - american - Awards & Expo - bees - bilingual - border - californiaeducation - Caribbean - cir - citizenship - climatechange - collgeinmiami - community - democrats - ecotourism - Elders - Election 2012 - elections2012 - escuelas - Ethnic Media in the News - Ethnicities - Events - Eye on Egypt - Fellowships - food - Foreclosures - Growing Up Poor in the Bay Area - Health Care Reform - healthyhungerfreekids - howtodie - humiliating - immigrants - Inside the Shadow Economy - kimjongun - Latin America - Law & Justice - Living - Media - memphismediaroundtable - Multimedia - NAM en Espaol - Politics & Governance - Religion - Richmond Pulse - Science & Technology - Sports - The Movement to Expand Health Care Access - Video - Voter Suppression - War & Conflict - 攔截盤查政策 - Top Stories - Immigration - Health - Economy - Education - Environment - Ethnic Media Headlines - International Affairs - NAM en Español - Occupy Protests - Youth Culture - Collaborative Reporting

If Health Care Excludes Some Immigrants, Are Quarantines Next?

New America Media, Commentary, Roberto Rodriguez Posted: Sep 16, 2009

Editor's Note: Germs and viruses know no boundaries, so for the United States to not expand health care access to the undocumented would be playing with fire, writes NAM contributing writer Roberto Rodriguez.

South Carolina Rep. Joe You Lie Wilson has touched a raw nerve with his outburst during the president's health care speech. Yet, he may have also opened the proverbial Pandoras box regarding illegals with his accusation that they would get health care under reforms proposed by Pres. Obama. Not dealt with properly by the president and the Democratic Party, Wilsons incivility could end up unleashing a new and more rabid anti-immigrant movement of the kind seen in Europe.

Played out to its logical conclusion, this dynamic of not providing health care for undocumented immigrants, in the event of a pandemic, could lead to calls for widespread quarantines and calls for massive dragnet raids, incarceration programs and large-scale deportations. And as occurs now, the inability to distinguish between legal or so-called illegal aliens with the predisposed belief that all Mexicans (Central and South Americans included) are an illegal and illegitimate population means that all red-brown peoples in this country could be viewed and treated as suspect.

That aside, germs, viruses and diseases do not discriminate, nor do they ask for legal documentation. They cross borders freely in both directions, and neither walls nor moats can hold them back. This is the perfect example of why health policies should be in the hands of health professionals, not political ideologues.

In the climate we live in, assuring Americans that only legal residents will be eligible to receive health benefits plays well in the conservative political arena. However, from a health standpoint, it borders on suicidal. People on all sides of the issue should recognize the health implications of keeping 12 million people (or 20 million, according to immigration restrictionists) outside of the nations health care system.

CNNs Lou Dobbs has made a career of scaring Americans into believing that illegal aliens are the cause of all of the nations problems. He has even irresponsibly spread lies about them spreading leprosy. Yet, for the sake of argument, suppose Dobbs is correct in his basic premise that migrants (illegal or otherwise) are apt to carry and spread infectious and communicable diseases. The logical response to this threat would be to quarantine, or deport, the 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants instantly.

Since even the most rabid restrictionists acknowledge that this would be impossible, from a health standpoint, it makes better sense to ensure that all people in the United States have access to preventive health care. This would not solely be for the sake of the migrants, but also for the sake of the entire U.S. population.

Under President Barack Obamas health plan, undocumented aliens will be excluded. As it stands now, legal residents who have been in the country for fewer than five years are also denied many health benefits. This backward policy will continue.

As La Opinin newspaper in Los Angeles recently opined, such a policy is bad health policy and bad economic policy. However, Democrats, more concerned with Wilsons insult to the president and to Congress, have been blindsided to the extent that they will be forced to adopt or maintain these medically unsound policies. In fact, to prove Wilson wrong, they will be pressured into injecting or advocating militaristic solutions (to search and find undocumented residents) into not simply the health care bill, but probably all future legislation.

The idea of intentionally excluding anyone from the nations health plan is to court a massive disaster. It may lead to the drumbeat demand that beyond employment public and private every service rendered by government, from education to housing, must be done so through its E-verify program a program designed to verify legal residency among job applicants. In rabid times, it could result in an even more radical proposal: a demand to use E-verify for every commercial purpose, including the checkout stand.

At the immigration kangaroo court called Operation Streamline earlier this year in Tucson, Ariz., I saw the future: because of the swine flu (H1N1) epidemic, like a surreal movie, all of the defendants who were from Mexico and Central America wore protective masks in the federal courtroom. In the event of a more severe and deadly pandemic, it is highly likely that our elected leaders and politicians will insist that only U.S. citizens have access to immunization and health care.

The truth is that only where we permit other human beings to be dehumanized would a society think of denying people the right to basic health care. The other truth is that nowadays we live in a completely globalized world, which necessarily calls for global solutions and global (financial) cooperation.

Its a health issue, stupid.

Rodriguez, a professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached at: XColumn@gmail.com.

Related Articles:

On Health Care, Youth Willing and Able, But White House Never Called

Death Panels Language Distracts From Real Issues for Ethnic Elders

Page 1 of 1




Just Posted

NAM Coverage