- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 16, 2005

Execute every act of thy life as though it were thy last.

— Marcus Aurelius

As an active Hispanic Republican in Virginia, I am saddened and embarrassed by the General Assembly’s passage of a bill that lacks the compassion the party claims, or at least claimed to have during the 2004 elections.

This measure was recently signed into law denying undocumented immigrants public benefits, including access to Medicaid, welfare and local health-care services. Though the targeted population is here not legally present, they are a vulnerable part of our society, and they deserve some basic access to services.

Some may try to justify this ignorant act as an effort to prevent the draining of our public services. But they couldn’t be farther than the truth. This is merely an attempt to scapegoat a defenseless segment of our population in a political grandstanding. Any educated and well-informed person knows this is a redundant bill, since federal law already denies access to any undocumented person.

There is no factual information these individuals access or abuse the system. If they do, they are working and paying into the system through their labor on jobs we do not want.

These people and their families are not draining the system. What we get in return is more valuable than the services they use. In addition, many who pay into the system do not access it for fear of being caught. So where is the drainage?

The drainage will occur when even those here legally along with the undocumented fail to access services, out of fear, until their worsening conditions force them to visit the nearest emergency rooms at public expense.

So, the undocumented access to services does not cause Virginia’s skyrocketing Medicaid costs, the excuse some politicians like to use for this bill. The cause is the weak market force and lack of competition within the health-care industry and the managed care system.

This bill’s passage does not reflect common sense: It will cost Virginia more money, and lacks the compassion our politicians claim to possess.

Health care exists to keep the public healthy regardless of “race or creed.” Yet, unsurprisingly, those who probably view health care in market terms and not as a human right, use it to target some of society’s most needy and defenseless.

As a Hispanic Republican active in Virginia, I am embarrassed. I am sure those who support this bill probably can parade Hispanics who favor of this legislation. But such people are not the majority voice of our community.

FRANCISCO SEMIAO

Fairfax, Va.

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