Editorial Questions Proposals To Limit Health Services to Undocumented Immigrants
The "lack of a clear national policy to more effectively deal with the 12 million to 14 million [undocumented] immigrants now in the country is glaring," a Raleigh News & Observer editorial states. "But the situation is not improved when individual localities adopt harsh and varied measures to try to address the problem within their borders," the editorial adds.
According to the editorial, "some counties in North Carolina are beginning to ponder whether they ought to limit public health services" to undocumented immigrants. The "argument in favor" of such an action "is that if people are outside the law and have no legal status in the country, they have no right to the care accessible to citizens," the editorial states (Raleigh News & Observer, 9/18). Federal law requires that emergency health care be provided regardless of a patient's immigration status. Many health officials maintain that providing immigrants with basic care -- such as immunizations, prenatal care and screening for contagious diseases -- would prevent diseases' spread (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 9/18).
According to some doctors, undocumented immigrants might stop seeking medical help if health departments are forced to use medical records to "detect and prosecute immigrants who lack proper documentation," the editorial says. "If that happens, the consequences -- for everyone -- could be dire," the editorial adds.
The News & Observer states, "Will we reach the point where resentment of [undocumented] immigrants is so feverish that they will be denied services at public health departments? It appears that point may be faintly visible, and the distance to clear focus may be shortening" (Raleigh News & Observer, 9/18).