Alabama law says no health care for undocumented immigrants

20 Jul

Medical community speaks out against Alabama’s immigration law, WAFF, July 11, 2011

I want to expand on a point that my colleague Maria-Elena Young wrote in her last post, namely that undocumented immigrants are often blamed for the rise in Emergency Room costs. Many of us in public health and in medicine argue for prevention and primary care as one way to reduce the ER costs. By now, we’ve all heard about Alabama’s new anti-immigration bill, HB 56, one that is the harshest and most stringent against immigrants. While various parts of the bill have received wide attention, one aspect that hasn’t gotten as much attention is the fact that it prohibits medical professionals from providing basic health care to patients. Those who do, will be penalized. Under the HB 56 health care providers can be punished for doing what they are trained to do: provide care and services to people who need it. And undocumented immigrants are being pushed aside and labeled as undeserving of what should be a basic human right: health care.

But wait, there is one exception that shows the hypocrisy of it all: providers can treat patients only if it’s an emergency! So while conservatives and anti-immigrant folks often blame undocumented immigrants for the rise in ER costs, the only option that supporters of the bill want to give them, if any, is the ER.

This is not a unique thing. Politicians on both sides manipulate the immigration debate to further their own interests. Putting politics aside, it that’s even possible, I urge politicians like Alabama’s Micky Hammon, sponsor of HB 56, to recognize that undocumented immigrants are not objects or scapegoats. Undocumented immigrants are above all human beings and they, just like anyone else, papers or no papers, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. HB 56 is a disgrace and a shameful bill that should have no part in this country that prides itself in freedom and fairness.

Related News

Boston’s Menino threatens to withdraw from Secure Communities, Boston Globe, July 11, 2011
In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security’s SCOMM task force, Mayor Thomas Menino writes: “Secure Communities must change substantially or be scrapped….As operated now, Secure Communities is diminishing trust, an essential part of the neighborhood fabric and a vital public safety tool.’’

Factbox: States with recent anti-immigration policies, Reuters, July 12, 2011
This article provides a run-down of recent anti-immigration bills (AZ style laws) in the following nine states: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.

Extreme Alabama Immigration Law heads to Court, New America Media, July 13, 2011
Civil rights, human-rights and faith groups file a class action lawsuit against Alabama’s stringent anti-immigration law, HB 56, which is planned to take effect on September 1st.

The costs of E-Verify: 2.6 billion per year for small businesses, New America Media, July 14, 2011
Experts discuss the costs and the inaccuracies of E-Verify. The Center for American Progress also provides a handy illustration here.

Half of California DREAM Act Passes Senate, Moves to Governor’s Desk, Colorlines, July 15, 2011
AB 130, the less controversial part of the two-bill DREAM Act package in CA, passes with a 25-10 vote in the Senate. The bill allows undocumented students who are eligible for in-state tuition to apply for private scholarships. The second bill, AB 131, would allow undocumented students to be eligible for state financial aid and is expected to face a tougher passage.


One Response to “Alabama law says no health care for undocumented immigrants”


  1. The United State of America’s Cruelty at its Worst, 9/26-10/2 « The Curious Ostrich - October 3, 2011

    […] undoubtedly have an incredibly detrimental effect on the well-being of immigrant communities, from increased barriers to health care to increased discrimination and […]

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