Column of the Americas
Neither walls or moats can hold them back…
By Roberto Rodriguez
Sept 15, 2009
Congressman Joe “You Lie” Wilson has touched a raw nerve. Yet he may have also opened wide the proverbial Pandora’s Box regarding“illegals.” Not dealt with properly by the president and the Democratic Party, Wilson’s incivility could end up unleashing a new and more rabid anti-immigrant movement comparable to those seen in Europe.
Played out to its logical conclusion, this dynamic of not providing health care for migrants, in the event of a pandemic, could lead to calls for widespread quarantines and calls for massive dragnet raids,massive incarceration programs and large-scale deportations. And as occurs now, the inability to tell the difference between legal orso-called illegal aliens – with the predisposed belief that all Mexicans (Central and South Americans also) are illegal and an illegitimate population – means that all red-brown peoples in this country could be viewed and treated as suspect populations.
That aside, germs, viruses and diseases do not discriminate nor do they ask for legal documentation. They cross borders freely in both directions as neither walls or moats can hold them back. This is the perfect example of why health policies should be in the hands of health professionals, not ideologue politicians.In the climate we live in, assuring Americans that only U.S. citizens will be eligible to receive health benefits plays well in the conservative political arena. However, from a health standpoint, itborders on suicidal. People on all sides of the issue should recognize the health implications of keeping 12 million people (or 20 million people, according to immigration restrictionists) outside of the nation’s health system.
CNN’s Lou Dobbs has made a career of scaring Americans into believing that “illegal aliens” are the cause of all the nation’s problems. He has even irresponsibly spread false myths about them spreading leprosy. Yet for the sake of argument, suppose Dobbs is correct in his basic premise that migrants (illegal or otherwise) are apt to carry and spread infectious and communicable diseases. The logical responseto this threat would be to quarantine… or deport… the 12-20 million illegal migrants instantly. Yet, since even the most rabid restrictionists acknowledge that it would be impossible to quarantine or deport millions of people instantly, from a health standpoint, it makes better sense to ensure that all people in the United States have access to preventive health care. This would not solely be for the sake of the migrants, but also for the sake of the entire U.S.population.
Under President Barack Obama’s plan, undocumented aliens will be excluded from his health plan. As it stands now, legal residents who have been in the country for less than five years are also denied many health benefits. This backward policy will continue.As La Opinion newspaper in Los Angeles recently opined, such a policy is bad health policy and bad economic policy. However, Democrats, more concerned with Wilson’s insult to the president and to Congress, have been blind sighted to the extent that they will be forced to adopt or maintain these medically unsound policies.
In fact, to prove Wilson wrong, they will be pressured into injecting or advocating militaristic solutions [to find “illegals”] into not simply the health care bill, but probably all future legislation.
The idea of intentionally excluding anyone from the nation’s health plan is to court a massive disaster. It may lead to the drumbeat demand that beyond employment – public and private – every service rendered by government, from education to housing, must be done sothrough its E-Verify program – a program designed to verify U.S.Citizenship among job applicants. In rabid times, it could result inan even more radical proposal; a demand to use E-verify for every commercial purpose, including the checkout stand.
At the immigration kangaroo court called Operation Streamline earlier this year in Tucson, I saw the future; because of the swine flu (H1N1) epidemic, like a surreal movie, all the defendants – from Mexico and Central America – wore protective masks in the federal courtroom. In the event of a more severe and deadly pandemic, it is highly likely that our elected leaders and politicians will insist that only U.S.citizens have access to immunization and health care.
The truth is that only where we permit other human beings to be dehumanized would a society think of denying people the right to basic health care.
The other truth is that we nowadays live in a completely globalized world, which necessarily calls for global solutions and global [financial] cooperation.It’s a health issue, stupid.
Rodriguez, a professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached at: XColumn@gmail.com
Thanks & Sincerely
Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
Column of the Americas
PO BOX 85476Tucson, AZ 85754