- The Washington Times - Monday, January 7, 2002

In response to Michelle Malkin's Jan. 1 Commentary column, “Osama's medical welcome mat,” let's get the facts straight regarding undocumented immigrants:

• Undocumented immigrants come to this country primarily for jobs, not health care.

• Undocumented immigrants are only eligible for emergency care, not health care for chronic conditions such as renal dialysis or organ transplants.

• When Miss Malkin cites some ridiculous figure of $31 million for emergency services in North Carolina, she includes services to legal immigrants, who qualify by law for Medicaid.

• Immigrants work at jobs that nobody else wants for long hours at low wages and under dangerous working conditions, which contribute to the need for emergency care.

• Studies show that immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, contribute more in taxes than the costs in services they incur and also are less likely than citizens to seek public benefits.

The bottom line is that very few undocumented immigrants ever receive health care services. They do not expect it and rarely seek it because most are too afraid of being deported; they only seek it for dire emergencies. The services they do receive are minimal usually simply to stabilize them, with no follow-up or ongoing treatment and necessary, if nothing else, for public health reasons.

In a country as wealthy as ours, would Miss Malkin ask us to turn our backs on the migrant worker who enables us to put food on our table or the sweatshop worker who sews the clothes we wear and let those workers die? Let us not forget that we always have been a nation of “immigrants,” and that has always been one of greatest strengths.


DOREENA WONG

Staff attorney

National Health Law Program

Washington

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