Should Illegal Immigrants Have Access to Health Care?

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Each year millions of illegal and undocumented immigrants enter the United States, most from Latin American countries, such as Mexico. Mexico is the largest single source of undocumented aliens in the U.S. and it is estimated that Mexican nationals may amount to 50% of the United States total. Immigrants flee their countries for a variety of reasons, such as, political repression, economic hardship, war, and poverty. Since there has been a spike in immigration, there have been policies implemented in an effort to keep the “other” out of the U.S. and from receiving public services, with an emphasis on “dark-skinned” and ethnic minorities. One such policy called the Personal Responsibility Act of 1996 and its amendments restricted federal and state benefits available to undocumented immigrants. Opponents argue that illegal immigrants do not have a right to public healthcare because they do not contribute to the tax system and place a drain on the healthcare system’s resources. Supporters of illegal immigrants receiving healthcare argue that healthcare is a universal right and should not be denied to a person based on citizenship status. Providing healthcare and other public services to illegal immigrants, despite costs, are beneficial to the American community. It is ironic that America is traditionally anti-immigration, although most Americans themselves are not far removed from their immigrant ancestors. American history, however, is replete with examples of bigotry and hatred directed towards those who are illegal immigrants. Americans have such negative attitudes toward illegal immigrants because they do not want people coming into the country that they will have to take care of. Walter Trattner affirms that in the early colonial days (17th century) of American society colonies used to have “warning away laws” which prohibited strangers from entering certain colonies and staying long periods of time. In order to stay in a certain colony, one would have to be viable and contribute to the colony in order to reap its benefits. Trattner also states that colonists showed less compassion for the plight of strangers because they were thought to be a source of social and political, as well as, financial difficulty for the community. Unfortunately, Americans still have the same attitude when it comes to strangers, or “illegal’s”, entering their community and taking advantage of their community’s resources. As a result, today the United States builds walls along its border and implements strict border laws, intended to prohibit illegal immigrants from entering the country. When illegal immigrants enter the United States they are prohibited from obtaining, finding housing, and receiving driver’s licenses making it so difficult for them that many will leave the country. It is not surprising that most of the border laws and policies are targeted at people of color and other minority groups. The United States illegal immigration policies, anti-immigration attitudes, and issues of who should have access to healthcare are strongly related to class and race. Most illegal immigrants coming into the United States are people of color, uneducated, and poor, who are usually marginalized in U.S. society. Therefore, illegal immigrants are deemed unworthy of healthcare or any other public service provided by the U.S. government. Healthcare, furthermore, is an issue of socioeconomic status. Those at the top (whites and people with money) will always have greater access to healthcare than people at the bottom (minorities and illegal immigrants). The very people that get to decide whether illegal immigrants should have healthcare are at the top of American society and they have very little concern for those at the bottom. Jonas argues that, “current U.S. policies deal with Latin American immigrants as if they constituted a major threat to U.S. “national security” or are infringing upon our society. To minimize the threat of illegal immigrants...
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