Friday, March 19, 2010

Health Care Bill Affects Immigrants

As the house passes the senate portions of the health care bill, most people will be debating the effects of the bill on Americans. Illegal immigrants were also affected by the bill. According to a summary of the contents of the bill by CBS, "illegal immigrants will not be allowed to buy health insurance in the exchanges -- even if they pay completely with their own money."

This past Thursday President Obama gave his support to a plan that would create a process to legalize illegal immigrants in the United States. Senators promoting the bill describe it as "a 'tough but fair' program that would require illegal immigrants to admit they broke the law and make them perform community service and pay a fine." (Washington Times) The bill would also require that illegal immigrants demonstrate a proficiency in the English language. This raises questions about what the bill might consider "proficiency," whether or not it would be reasonable to expect all illegal immigrants to learn English, and what would be done if immigrants do not pass the English test, are unable to perform community service, or are unable to pay a fine.

With the health care bill passed, it seems even more critical for illegal immigrants that a bill creating a reasonable path towards citizenship be created so that they may once again be eligible for health care.

(An interesting aside - it had never before occurred to me that when countries host events such as the Olympics or the World Cup, that they are opening the door to many potential asylum seekers.)

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