JUNE 01, 2006
New York officials have distributed a letter assuring illegal immigrants that their legal status will not be questioned when they seek their free American taxpayer-funded medical care at the city’s public hospitals.
Published in 11 languages, the letter promises illegal immigrants that their status will be kept confidential and that they have a right to quality health care even if they can’t pay for it or are in the country illegally. It begins by telling immigrants not to be afraid to go to the doctor, clinic or emergency room.
The president of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, the largest municipal healthcare system in the country, authored the letter which has been distributed throughout the city and has been published in various Spanish-language newspapers. The publicly funded hospital network serves 1.3 million New Yorkers annually regardless of ability to pay. Hundreds of thousands are uninsured illegal immigrants.
City officials say they launched the crucial information campaign after hearing stories that some undocumented people were not seeking costly medical assistance because they feared that city health care workers would report them to immigration officials in the wake of the heated national immigration debate.
New York is a safe haven of sorts for illegal aliens. Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed an executive order that forbids city agencies from inquiring about or disclosing the immigration status of New Yorkers who come into contact with city government. The city has about 2.9 million foreign-born persons and an undocumented population estimated at around half a million.
U.S. taxpayers annually dish out millions of dollars to medically treat illegal aliens and the burden has led to the closure of many hospitals and the spread of previously vanquished diseases.
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