Latino Leaders Riled by Role of Immigration in Health Care Debate

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 6:00 am
Rep. Joe Wilson, R-SC. President Barack Obama addresses a joint session of Congress on Sept. 9, 2009. (WDCpix)

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-SC. President Barack Obama addresses a joint session of Congress on Sept. 9, 2009. (WDCpix)

Latino lawmakers had long ago given up on the idea that illegal immigrants would receive any sort of subsidized health insurance under a health care reform bill, even if there are strong economic, public health and moral arguments to support the idea. But what they hadn’t expected – at least not before Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst earlier this month – was that immigrants would be so scapegoated in the health care debate that undocumented immigrants would be denied the opportunity even to purchase market-based private health insurance with their own money. That development, and other possible provisions of the Senate Finance Committee health care bill introduced by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) that may exclude even some legal immigrants from the benefits of a new health care system, threatens to undermine Latino support for Democratic lawmakers in the 2010 elections.

The Senate’s markup of the bill begins on Tuesday.

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

“We understood that undocumented immigrants would get no taxpayer subsidy, and that there would be a verification system,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, (D-Ill.) in a conference call last week organized by the immigrant advocacy group America’s Voice. “We said ‘okay.’ Bitter pills were swallowed,” said Gutierrez, a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. But soon after Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) publicly called President Obama a liar, said Gutierrez, “the White House started saying that illegal immigrants cannot even purchase health care on the free market health care exchange.”

After Obama in his September 9 speech said that under his health care plan, everyone “will be required to carry basic health insurance”, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that President Obama had never meant to allow illegal immigrants to participate in the health care exchange included as part of the proposal.

Gutierrez recalled that he was the first member of the Hispanic Congressional caucus to support Barack Obama for president, and “we galvanized the whole community to support him.” Obama had promised to bring illegal immigrants “out of the shadows” and provide “a path to legalization,” Gutierrez recalled. “That’s the president I voted for. Not one that said you can’t have health care even if you can pay for it.” Now, he added: “We’re revisiting support for health care reform.”

Latino religious leaders have similarly expressed their disappointment with Democrats who they’d previously supported and warn that they risk losing Latino support if the final bill, being worked out this week, ends up penalizing immigrants.

“Senate Democrats with the apparent support of the White House have rushed to deny undocumented immigrants the chance to use even their own money to pay for private health care,” said Rev. Luis Cortez, president of Esperanza, the largest evangelical Latino organization in the country, on the conference call last week. “We are seeing a demonizing of immigrant people,” he said, adding: “The political price is going to be high for both parties.”

“We were hopeful that the Democratic party which controls the Senate, and controls the House, and controls the executive wing was going to bring sanity to the conversation about immigration and comprehensive immigration reform,” he said. “If this is the beginning of the conversation, all we can look at as Hispanic people . . . is to look at every election and try to punish every individual regardless of their political party who denies rights to legal immigrants as well as who tries to punish those who are the poorest and most defenseless people in the country.”

In addition to the ban on illegal immigrants ability to participate in the health care exchange, immigrants’ advocates and Latino leaders worry that there’s little discussion of ending the current 5-year ban on even legal immigrants’ access to Medicaid and other health benefits. Although Sens. Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) have all either sponsored or co-sponsored legislation to eliminate the 5-year waiting period, such proposals do not seem to be winning much support.

On the contrary, the outline of the bill released last week also suggested that there might be “a two-year waiting period for any affordability credits for legal immigrants,” said Eric Rodriguez, vice president of the National Council of La Raza, last week. Meanwhile, legal immigrants in households where some members are not documented will have only limited access to benefits. “We’ve got to change the way this debate is unfolding,” Rodriguez said.

Sonal Ambegaokar, health policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, said at a briefing on Monday organized by the National Immigration Forum that the markups of the bill could create a new 5-year waiting period for legal immigrants to access the health care exchange.

U.S. citizen children of illegal immigrants are also at risk of not receiving health care, although technically they’d be entitled to it. But as a practical matter, they rely on their parents to enroll them. “Last time I checked 3rd and 4th graders don’t go around buying health insurance for themselves, they get it from their parents,” said Congressman Gutierrez. “To deny the parents is to deny their children.”

There are currently about 7 million legal immigrants in the United States without health care, and 4 million U.S. citizen children of illegal immigrants, most of whom don’t have health care either.

Immigrants’ advocates are also concerned that the Baucus bill produced by the Senate Finance Committee will end up including costly and unreliable enhanced verification systems to require all participants to prove their immigration status. Those verification systems may be “fraught with errors that could eliminate eligibility for legal immigrants who should have access to tax credits,” said Jennifer Ng’andu,Deputy Director of the Health Policy Project at the National Council of La Raza, who participated in yesterday’s policy briefing.

TWI reported last year that new verification requirements for Medicaid had prevented tens of thousands of eligible U.S. citizens from enrolling in the program in just the first 18 months after it went into affect. A 2007 GAO report similarly found that states’ extra verification requirements for Medicaid eligibility led to a significant decline in Medicaid enrollment among eligible recipients who had trouble proving their immigration status. In the meantime, the states incurred much higher administrative costs. A study conducted by the House Committee on Government and Oversight Reform in 2007 found that for every $100 spent to implement the enhanced verification procedures, states could document only 14 cents in Medicaid savings.

To Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, that health care reform efforts would lead to scapegoating of immigrants is not surprising. “All of this started with anti-immigration groups working closely with Republicans to demagogue this issue,” he said last week. “They’ve done it for years now on virtually every social policy issue. They’ve raised the fake issue of undocumented immigrants getting access to taxpayer-subsidized programs,” he said, adding that he “would like to see Democrats standing up to these distortions.” So far, that’s not happening, he lamented. “It seems that the policy of health care reform is to dump on immigrants even if it makes bad policy because somehow it’s seen as politically expedient.”

But increasingly, immigrants’ advocates are warning that Democratic support for such efforts may not be such a politically savvy strategy after all.



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Comment posted September 22, 2009 @ 1:37 pm

All legal immigrants agreed from the git go that they would not be a burden on our country by receiving any benefits reserved for citizens. They were willing to come in spite of such restrictions so it is a nonissue. Lawbreaking illegal aliens should receive only emergency medical care and stabilization, then be deported. No more, no less. They have come here illegally from every country, race and ethnicity. The only thing they share in common is breaking our laws and the remedy in every case is deportation back to their varied homelands.

Comment posted September 22, 2009 @ 3:17 pm

latino leader are getting all wee-weed up

Comment posted September 22, 2009 @ 4:05 pm

Latinos riled, and who gives a rat's azz about what a bunch of traitors and grifters think, and if they don't like it, then they can go back to where they come from and get their free lunch.

Bob White
Comment posted September 22, 2009 @ 4:16 pm

Amnesty was a failed program in the Reagan era 1986, it is not smart to do this dog and pony show again. I think that an illegal alien should always be an illegal alien until such a time as they fhey return to their country of origin and apply to enter legally. Give the illegal aliens a card which states they are guest workers. You do not come into my home uninvited and expect me to care for you.

Comment posted September 22, 2009 @ 6:03 pm

La Raza is starting to see a reaction from the American public that is long overdue. Maybe the tail will stop wagging the dog.

Hopefully we can return to being a nation of laws. The 1986 amnesty was a social contract that outlawed employment to future illegal immigrants. Otherwise employers unfairly compete with the law abiding ones, and shift costs onto the taxpayers.

Comment posted September 22, 2009 @ 7:39 pm

Along the lines of Don Corleone…anyone who calls an illegal alien anything other than an illegal alien, is a traitor, and they can shove that undocumented bull**** back up where it came from.

Comment posted September 22, 2009 @ 8:41 pm

its ridiculous they are even discussing this.”rights” for illegal aliens?lol, they are criminals and should be treated as criminals.

Aztlan Buster
Comment posted September 22, 2009 @ 8:57 pm

Illegal aliens are criminals and parasites, one and all. Their very presence here and practically everything they do on U. S. soil is illegal. They need to be ferreted out, rounded up like cattle, punished for their numerous crimes, then booted back to whence they snuck in from with such extreme prejudice that they will never, ever think of violating our sovereignty again. Enough is enough.

Comment posted September 22, 2009 @ 9:24 pm

The Dumocrats are screwed either way. Americans will never support illegal aliens for anything so if they get healthcare Americans will be against the Dums, like at the town halls. If the illegals don't get healthcare, then the illegal lovin advocates will be against the Dums. Frankly, no one really cares what the Latino leaders like Gutierrez think, since they don't represent Americans anyway, only Mexicans. You thought we got hot over healthcare for illegals? Just wait til amnesty talk starts again. The poop will really hit the fan then. Personally, I can't wait to see the outrage this will cause and see Americans rise up again. Remember when Kennedy said after the last amnesty…never again and we will enforce the laws?? Well we know what a joke that was and we will not be fooled again. It is up to us to stop this nonsense and make our politicans work for us. If not, vote them out.

Comment posted September 22, 2009 @ 9:53 pm

Why are American Latinos so concerned about the welfare of foreigners, and so unconcerned about the welfare of their fellow Americans? Someone might consider them disloyal to our country, or something.

Comment posted September 22, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

Nothing is a 100 percent perfect and that goes for the government application E-Verify? The answer for any irate hired worker is simple, that if the employer is not satisfied with the results of the immigration verification identity process? You take a copy of your 1-9 form to the Social security agency, to resolve the issue? YOU WILL OBVIOUSLY NOT APPEAR BEFORE AN AGENT OF THE GOVERNMENT, IF YOU HAVE NO AUTHENTIC PAPERS? This is not a complex approach to the problem, although the US Chamber of Commerce, ACLU and a multitude of detrimental businesses have tried to escalate this situation? They say categorically nothing about how to rectify the matter, owing to their main objective is to demonize the process any way they can? Even their adolescent attitude of filing some frivolous lawsuit with the courts fell through?

E-Verification–MUST–become a permanent law, not just subject to an employer’s whim? The public who savor their jobs not being appropriated by foreign workers–AS HAPPENED IN EUROPE–should demand E-Verify in every industry, every business with heavy penalties for those who rebuke the law including mandatory jail sentences. EUROPE over several decades has also been overwhelmed by legal and illegal immigrants, thats why health care across the Atlantic has become compromised? E-Verify could be easily expanded for many other uses in the US, including admittance to health care, drivers licenses, government subsidies that would include education and home mortgages?

But we must remain vigilant as the status quo has in their influence a group of stalwart politicians. They have secretly conspired to table E-Verify in the past and will no doubt try to eradicate it's accessibility in the future. Hundreds of pariah businesses are devoid of a conscious towards the American working man or woman. They have corrupted the lawmakers in Washington, with special interest money and extravagant favors. They have already indoctrinated some of our previously honest leaders with favors and in return we have seen the weakening of 287 G police training apprehension of illegal immigrants. Already President Obama has listened to Sen.Harry Reid D-NV, California's own Nancy Pelosi and Napolitano who have weakened other enforcement laws. NO! Innocent children of illegal immigrants who were transplanted by their parents here are not to blame. Our borders have remained like sieves, thanks to some of the lawmakers whom we voted for over the years. Legislators are ultimately culpable as they make the decisions, as by inheritance of each administration who resides in the White House?

Money was wasted on building the single length border fence instead of Rep.Duncan Hunters planned two-tier barrier as in San Diego? ICE raids have been reduced and even the No-match-rescinded. More money is wasted overturning enforcement laws, instead of using the full force of these procedures in combating the illegal immigrant invasion. IF YOU HAVE SOME SOLID KNOWLEDGE OF ILLEGAL WORKERS, CONTACT ICE! ADDRESS YOUR POLITICIANS AT 202-224-3121 NO MORE COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM! IT IS NOT IN THE COUNTRIES INTEREST. USE AMENDMENTS TO RESOLVE PROBLEMS WITH THE 1986 IMMIGRATION LAWS ALREADY ENACTED. Learn facts not rhetoric or lies at NUMBERSUSA & JUDICIAL WATCH & CAPSWEB.

Comment posted September 23, 2009 @ 1:29 am

So, Don't like the Republicans? And now don't like the Democrats??…Who You gonna vote for now??? HAR!HAR!HAR!

Comment posted September 23, 2009 @ 1:37 am

Call Ralph Nader. Maybe He'll pander You.

Comment posted September 23, 2009 @ 8:02 pm


Comment posted September 23, 2009 @ 8:49 pm

It's startling how quickly we turn to judging others as disloyal to “our” country. Is it disloyal to live by the words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”? These are the words engraved on the pedestal on which stands the greatest symbol of our country. American Latinos concerned about the welfare of foreigners might just be taking that message to heart.

You should ask yourself:

What is a country? Is it the people, the government, it's boundaries?

How do you become part of your definition of a country? Are you born as part of it? Do you take it by force? Are you allowed in?

What is loyalty? And who, where or what deserves yours?

I don't expect you will really ask yourself these questions, but I pose them because they are important. Too often we are megaphones for those posing the debate. We just repeat what we hear without stopping to ask ourselves if it is right or just. We don't stop to think for ourselves. To question the status quo is patriotic and undeniably what the forefathers intended.

One last thing…the majority of US “Americans” descended from immigrants. Do you bellieve your ancestors should have been ostracised because they came from another “country”?

Comment posted September 23, 2009 @ 9:00 pm

One last thing…the majority of US “Americans” descended from immigrants. Do you bellieve your ancestors should have been ostracised because they came from another “country”?'
Well, my ancestors were English colonists who founded this country, wrote its Constitution and fought against Great Britain so it could come into being, so no one ostracized them unless you are talking about the Indians, who tried to kill them. But no one should ostracize anyone for coming from another country; however someone who comes from another country but puts that country or people ahead of the US and their fellow Americans, they do indeed deserve to be ostracized.

“Is it disloyal to live by the words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”?

The poem doesn't say, “Come on in and benefit from this country, but feel free to keep your loyalty to some other country or people, we don't care.” The expectation is that you become loyal to your fellow Americans in exchange for the benefits of living in this country, which your fellow Americans built with their blood, sweat. toil and tears. It's a fair deal, and one that millions of people have been happy to accept for more than 200 years. Except now we have many of these people called “Latinos” who seem to think the deal shouldn't apply to them.

Someone who is more loyal to a foreign national he's never met, than to the fellow Americans he lives across the street from, is definitely not loyal to this country.

Comment posted September 23, 2009 @ 9:50 pm

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”? These are the words engraved on the pedestal on which stands the greatest symbol of our country. American Latinos concerned about the welfare of foreigners might just be taking that message to heart.
The poem doesn't say “Feel free to come on in, benefit from all that Americans have built, but feel free to remain loyal to some other country and some other people instead of to America and Americans.” There's another part to that deal, the deal where you adopt Americans as your people and leave your “old world” behind. For 200 years, most people coming here have been happy to take that deal; some “Latinos” now seem to think that deal shouldn't apply to them.

If you support taking healthcare benefits away from the Americans who built the country that you are so happy to benefit from, and giving those benefits to law-breaking foreigners who had nothing to do with building this country, then yes, indeed, you are disloyal.

Let me ask you, who is “your people”? A Latin American living in some village somewhere that you've never met, or the American of whatever color who lives down the street from you, and who you've known all your life?

Many Latinos seem to think that a fellow Latino they've never met from a village 2000 miles away, is more deserving of their loyalty than the American down the street they've known all their lives. That's the way you come off as, anyways, when your journalists like Ms. Eviatar contiually harp on the well-being of “your people” while ignoring the well-being of the Americans who built the country you think you are entitled to benefit from.

Comment posted September 24, 2009 @ 12:22 am

So your ancestors were loyal to their country Great Britain? I'd say not!

The requirement of loyalty smacks of loyalty oaths and McCarthyism. We left that America behind 5 decades ago, and we are not going to revisit it on your behalf MaryJay. Anyone who puts Latinos in quotes is suspect.

Comment posted September 24, 2009 @ 12:24 am

I'll point out that Don Corleone was from Sicily… but that would probably fly over your pointy head.

Sandy Newman
Comment posted September 24, 2009 @ 4:53 pm

What a load of garbage that has no logic or reasoning to defend your point other than some cliches that you're regurgitating.

Comment posted September 25, 2009 @ 5:52 pm

I have to ask and will continue to ask: Are the only illegal immigrants those from Mexico? I think not!! So you hate “Mexicans?” What about someone here illegally from Denmark, Norway, Australia, South Africa? They will fall under the same law.
What frightens me is that, if an ethnic person of brown color lies bleeding in the street, the bigots among you will walk by and allow him or her to die without rendering aid because you are positive that the skin color equals “illegal alien.”
Think of the child with pneumonia. Will that innocent have to die because of the same bigotry?
Some of you are “Christians.” Ask yourself: What would Jesus do? THEN, FOR GOD'S SAKE, DO IT!!

Comment posted October 3, 2009 @ 3:49 pm

No my ancestors were not loyal to Great Britain, they revolted against it to found this new country that you think “your people” are entitled to suck benefits from ad nasuem. Do you have reading comphrension problems?

It is not unreasonable to expect loyalty from people who sup at my table, eat my food, and warm themselves at my fire. Do you think that “Latinos” or anyone else should be able to do avail themselves of all that we provide, then stab us in the back so they can get a few more goodies out of us for “their people” back home?

If you want to benefit from a country and the people who built it, you show loyalty to it and them. That is what decent people do. That is the basics of a nation. A nation cannot survive without loyalty.

Once again, this is what it's about: cutting benefits for native-born Americans who worked hard all their lives to build this country and pay huge taxes to support its social services, in order to “give” these same benefits to illegal foreign lawbreakers who never paid a dime for those social services,

And why would we want to do that? Just because loudmouth “Latinos” like Janet Murguia and Daphne Eviatar are more loyal to their “race” than to their country? The country that took them in and gave them a chance to have a better way of life than they had in the Third World hellholes they came from?

There are a lot of words to describe that attitude; I am not sure that “disloyalty” is sufficient.

Comment posted October 3, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

You don't seem to get the irony of your statements. Native Americans were native born, not your ancestors. You require loyalty of the citizens, yet admit your ancestors were not only disloyal to their government, they rebelled. So thanks for clarifying…your ancestors were disloyal immigrants who were not native born to this land.

“Social services”? Are you just another socialist trying to protect your free government handouts from the interloping foreigners?

Comment posted October 15, 2009 @ 11:45 pm

Illegal aliens should only receive a visit from ICE and a quick trip back to their homelands.

Comment posted October 15, 2009 @ 11:53 pm

Luis Guiterriez worries so much about illegal aliens. Wish he would care as much about the American people. Maybe he's in the wrong country.

Comment posted October 15, 2009 @ 11:57 pm

There is no such thing as a “Native American” because humans are not native to this continent. There are native-born U.S. citizens, naturalized immigrants, aliens with the lawful right to reside in our country, and then there are illegal alien work thieves and anchor babies — and the cowbird babies that they drop in our nest.

Yes, some of my ancestors were LEGAL immigrants who worked to show their loyalty and dedication to their new country.

Comment posted October 16, 2009 @ 4:15 am

No illegal alien or there anchor babies should get any type of benefit, To me and most of America they are nothing but rats that have snuck in to this country and by doing so deserve NADA! Even Dems know this thats why they are gettin g mnothing. To make the child of a illegal alien a citizen is insane at best, they have no loyalty to America or Americans. I do not feel bad for these rats what so ever. They should be rounded up like the criminals they are and deported by any means possible. Legal immagrints have nothing what so ever to worry about, I favor Profiling, what ever means to rid my country of these RATS

House Democrats Must Pass Senate Health Care Reform | Progressive Nation
Pingback posted January 23, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

[...] Immigrants: Members of the Hispanic Caucus lose big here. While both chambers have proposed to ban illegal immigrants from receiving subsidies on [...]

Daniela Aguila
Comment posted April 8, 2010 @ 1:06 pm

who are we to ostracize these people just because they come to this country to better their lives and the lives of their families. doesnt America pride itself on being a “melting pot”? then why the hell are we excluding and making it almost impossible for immigrants to make a decent living, legal or illegal.
then theres the bs excuse of “they should learn the language” and all that other crap. why are we so dam persistant in wanting them to assimilate to our culture? let them have their own culture and tradition and let us have our.
we complain that these ilegal immigrants are taking our jobs, but they do the jobs that most Americans dont want, and do them for wages bellow minimum wage. Our government makes it so hard for these people to actually move forward. its not like they want to live without paying taxes and most of them want to one day achieve lagality in this country, but our government makes the process so costly and difficult for them. advocators for the health care bill that claim illegal immigrants should not be covered base it on the fact that they wont pay the taxes that go into funding this reform. this isnt because illegal immigrants want a free ride because most of them can afford to pay, but it is because our government makes it so hard for them to even become citizens in the first place.
and to all the people who say they should go back to their own country, then your ancestors should have done the same thing and never steped foot on American soil. Some of these comments are ignorant, racist, and rude. You should be ashamed of yourselves. These are human being we are talking about who deserve basic rights just as any American. We criticise other countries for the crimes they commit on humanities but we do the same crap in ours and try to justify it.

Comment posted September 6, 2011 @ 8:12 pm

Люди, вот решила попробовать сесть на диету… Кто что скажет, то что предлагают на этом сайте
“Простая Диета” хорошая штука, или очередной развод?

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