Not Insuring Illegal Immigrants Costs More

Shame on those who want us to deny healthcare coverage to illegal immigrants! It’s not only morally wrong, it’s very expensive. Take for example, the plight of Raymond Fok. Because no other facility would accept his transfer out of the hospital, he ended up staying there for 19 months. With the bed alone costing two grand per day, his expenses added up to $1.4M. Judging by the anti-immigrant comments on the article, those people are too busy moralizing the issue to notice the ridiculous amount of money that the hospital could have saved, had we chosen a more practical policy.

The only point of our anti-immigrant health care policy is to make life more difficult for people whom we arbitrarily decide to label as “illegals”. Most people who want to immigrate to the US don’t have it easy to begin with, so it’s a bit like kicking them while their down. If we wanted to, we could very easily open our immigration policy, and instantly have alot fewer people who are technically criminals. This change is not likely to become politically viable any time soon though. There are just too many “undesirables”–a category that Mr. Fok would probably find himself in–whom we’d like to bar entry.

Why do we want to keep people like Mr. Fok out? He is clearly a hard worker, and a great admirer of the US. He is just the sort of person we want immigrating here. If given the chance, he’d probably be a productive member of society. Unfortunately, we have forced him into the margins, where he is paid less than minimum wage, and has no health insurance. No wonder he can’t take care of himself properly! Instead, he has has become a burden to society by racking up huge medical costs that could have easily been avoided. Sadly, the hospital is forced to eat the unreimbursed cost of keeping Mr. Fok.

People who complain about the overwhelming number (est. 11 million) of illegal immigrants in the US almost never discuss what they think the entry criteria should be. Instead, they obsess over the fact that illegal immigrants are technically law-breakers. If we were to bring back Prohibition, would we attach the same law-breaker stigma to people running speak-easies? A more likely view is that of a scrappy entrepreneurial dare-devil, skirting a ridiculous law to bring good times to an oppressed population.

My theory as to why opponents never discuss what they think the entry criteria should be is two fold:

  1. Such a discussion would expose their underlying racism. These days, people are ashamed to admit they are racists, even to themselves (thankfully). To avoid the discomfort, they punt on the though issues. Instead of focusing on whether the existing criteria are fair, prudent, or even enforceable, they choose to focus on how the current system is being violated, regardless of the system’s merits.
  2. People are generally ignorant of what the criteria are, yet they assume that the rules make sense. I don’t entirely blame people for their ignorance (I rarely do), but to then rant in spite of it is not excusable.

People who claim that getting into this country legally is a walk in the park clearly don’t know any immigrants. Unless you are a specialist in a field that the US cares about, it takes years just to enter the country on an immigrant visa (most people enter on temporary non-immigrant visas, which have no path to long-term stay). Once you actually get here, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to stay for more than a few years. If you lose the renewal lottery, you’ll be sent back to your home country.

If you manage to stick around, you have to apply for permanent residence. The minimum back log for some classes of immigrants is over a decade, and in some cases, the maximum is close to two decades. If waiting decades for the government to decide your fate weren’t difficult enough, the legal fees typically add up to more than a thousand dollars. I doubt that’s an amount Mr. Fok would have ever been able to afford, despite his work ethic.

If you are lucky enough to be born here, there are no legal hurdles keeping you from staying. How come we force people who were born elsewhere to jump through so many hoops to enjoy the same rights? Isn’t freedom of speech universal? At least, the Declaration of Independence says that it is God-given. Who are we to choose which of God’s children may enjoy such freedoms? This is openly national origin discrimination. How is that consistent with our values?

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One Response to Not Insuring Illegal Immigrants Costs More

  1. Mariela Esteban says:

    im writing a persuasive essay and i came across to this a this story about Mr.Fox really cought my attention. i realate to it a lot becuase i have illegal parents. and they as well cant offored all the paper work and things like that to just stay here and have rights like the rest. they have to work hard just so they can stay here. im defentially using this story as my pathos(:

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