What mass immigration means for American medicine
By Virgil Goode
Like virtually every issue that faces the nation, our healthcare problem is greatly exacerbated by mass immigration—both legal and illegal. A total of 43 percent of noncitizens lack health insurance, compared to just 12.7 percent of native-born Americans. These uninsured immigrants impose huge strains on our healthcare system that helped create the crisis we currently face.
Plenty of analysts and commentators have exposed how illegal aliens will receive healthcare under Obamacare. They point out that while the bill claims to prohibit illegal aliens from receiving benefits, the Democrats repeatedly blocked Amendments that would screen for the illegals. Steve Camorata of the nonpartisan Center for Immigration Studies recently estimated that 6.6 million illegal aliens will be eligible for public healthcare.
This is an outrage for hardworking American citizens, but I’d like to focus on two other important but largely ignored aspects of our immigration crisis that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars if Obama’s healthcare boondoggle is passed.
The first is birthright citizenship. The 14th Amendment of the Constitution states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
The Amendment was passed for the sole purpose of granting freed slaves and their children citizenship. Senator Jacob Merritt Howard of Michigan who introduced the Amendment stated, “This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States.”
But the obvious intent, as well as the “subject to jurisdiction thereof” clause, is ignored by federal policy that gives children of illegal aliens born in the United States automatic citizenship.
What does this have to do with the healthcare debate? Under the plan right now, only one family member needs to be eligible for government healthcare, then the whole family can get free healthcare.
The Congressional Research Service acknowledged,
There could be instances where some family members would meet the definition of an eligible individual for purposes of the credit, while other family members would not… H.R. 3200 does not expressly address how such a situation would be treated. Therefore, it appears that the Health Choices Commissioner would be responsible for determining how the credits would be administered in the case of mixed-status families.”
This means that if a family of illegal aliens sneaks into the country and then has one child after they come in, the U.S. citizen “anchor baby” could make the entire family eligible for tax-funded healthcare. And I don’t need to tell you how Obama’s handpicked “Health Czar” would come down on the issue.
Another problem that makes the healthcare bill problematic is our policy of legal immigration. Annually, America accepts approximately one million legal immigrants in addition to the flood of illegal aliens. Most of these immigrants come through the process of chain migration, whereby legal immigrants and U.S. citizens sponsor family members. The process spirals out of control where eventually everyone’s cousin is eligible, regardless of skills or what they contribute to this country.
Steve Camarota analyzed the effect of all immigrants, both legal and illegal, as well as their U.S.-born children on health insurance. Camarota found that this group comprises up to one third of all the uninsured in America. Compared to the native-born population, they are twice as likely to be uninsured, and twice as likely to be on Medicaid.
In an attempt to partially alleviate the burden chain migration places on social services, the 1996 Welfare Reform Act made some requirements that the sponsors of immigrants be financially responsible for the immigrants. Indeed most welfare programs have some limitations on noncitizens. But under HR 3200, new immigrants who are supposed to be supported by a sponsor can get tax-funded healthcare. They can even sponsor more immigrants.
Writing at the immigration website VDARE.com, former Hudson Institute economist Ed Rubenstein estimates that legal immigrants and their children will be responsible for 78 percent of all increased healthcare costs by 2050 totaling 1.2 trillion dollars.
Unlike illegal aliens, anchor babies and legal immigrants did not break any laws. We should not demonize them, but we should not ignore the huge fiscal burden they impose on our already stretched economy.
Fixing our broken healthcare system is not easy, but making some basic changes to our immigration policy is. Securing our borders, enforcing our laws, ending birthright citizenship and chain migration, and reducing our levels of legal immigration; would do much more to lower healthcare costs than any government program.
Before America embarks on healthcare reform, we should either fix these problems in our immigration system, or at least put adequate safeguards to prevent immigrants from receiving even more free benefits at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer.
Virgil Goode represented Virginia’s 5th Congressional District from 1997 until 2005.