Arizona lawmakers are continuing their attack on immigrants, proposing a bill that would require hospitals to check whether a patient is in the country illegally. From today’s politico.com:
‘The bill, the first of its kind in the nation, has come under fire from doctors and others in the medical industry who fear the measure would deter some immigrants from seeking care.
‘“This is making us into a police state that will try to catch people when they are sick,” George Pauk, a retired doctor with Physicians for a National Health Program, told the Associated Press. “Do we want to stop sick people from coming in for health care?”’
But the mounted attack on immigrant communities is adding insult to injury when many undocumented immigrants have had to come to this country precisely because US economic foreign policy has pushed them from their homelands.
Health care is a human right. All deserve to live a healthy life. Moreover, we should be happy to share the wealth of this great nation with the hardworking immigrants who make our standard of living possible. They clean our homes, build our communities, take care of our children, and pick our food. We should be grateful for their hard work and make sure their needs are provided for, just as their hard work provides for ours. Instead, Arizona lawmakers would terrorize immigrants from seeking the health care they and their families need.
Texas lawmakers have proposed HB 21 and HB 22 (click and scroll down), which essentially serve the same purpose as the Arizona law, but in educational institutions, including public and charter schools. Collecting citizenship and immigration status information from school children and other government users will have a chilling effect on education and other services. Families will be discouraged from using these beneficial services, especially education.
The lawmakers of Arizona and now Texas seem fixated on punishing good, hard working people for the act of trying to provide for their families. Laws such as these add an additional layer of fear and anxiety on a group of hardworking people, many of which were pushed from their homes in the first place by failed US economic policies like NAFTA and Free Trade.
After 15 years, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Mexico, and Canada has devastated Mexico’s rural economy, eroded economic opportunities for decent manufacturing jobs and destroyed many small and medium-sized businesses in Mexico. NAFTA, which benefited only the narrow corporate special interests who designed and pushed it, generated enormous pressures for working-age Mexicans to attempt the dangerous journey to the United States. Since NAFTA, U.S. immigration from Mexico has surged.
Immigration was actually decreasing before NAFTA was implemented. But NAFTA required major cuts in Mexico’s tariffs that had limited imports of subsidized corn from the United States. When 2.5 million Mexican campesinos lost their livelihoods to U.S. NAFTA farm imports, Mexican immigration to the United States skyrocketed. The number of annual immigrants from Mexico to the United States surged from 332,000 in 1993 (the year before NAFTA) to 530,000 in 2000 – a 60 percent increase.
Undocumented immigrants to the US are stuck between the rock of Free Trade and hard place of anti-immigrant repression. US policies have devastated their home economies and have pushed them from their home lands. Once on this side of the border, US laws punish them for not giving in to hopelessness and despair, for working hard for their families and giving back to their communities. It is a situation of adding insult to injury and those who support justice and fairness must not stand for it.
The corporate politicians supporting Free Trade and anti-immigrant laws are not only injuring immigrants, but US workers as well. Free Trade has exported US jobs abroad as footloose international corporations crisscross the globe seeking lower wages and fewer regulations that protect workers, animals and the environment. US workers still employed in NAFTA industries, like manufacturing and apparel, have seen stagnant or decreasing wages as their employing companies compete with those profiting off of sweatshops and poverty wages abroad.
Perversely, many of those politicians who support Free Trade have made their political careers off pitting the victims of Free Trade against each other, gaining the votes of disaffected US workers by spreading the lies that immigrants are stealing US jobs and leeching off US tax payers.
To heal immigrant families and their communities on both sides of the border, the US has the obligation to end both Free Trade and immigrant repression.
Read the entire article on the new Arizona bill at politico.com