JUNE 06, 2008
U.S. taxpayers have spent $100 million in less than a year on health care for illegal immigrants incarcerated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including costly heart surgeries, chemo therapy, dialysis, appendectomies and medications that many Americans are denied or struggle to afford.
The taxpayer-financed medical services go to the approximately 300,000 illegal immigrants—mostly awaiting deportation—in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security. Costly hospitalizations, dental visits and procedures such as chest x-rays are also a regular part of the detainee health program, which in many ways is superior to that of many legal residents.
Although a national newspaper recently published a lengthy, tear-jerking article on an illegal immigrant who unfortunately died in custody, it failed to mention the overwhelming number of immigrants—many with serious or life-threatening preexisting conditions—who benefit from the topnotch medical care they receive in detention. In most cases, their health problems are the result of receiving no medical care in their native countries.
Besides hundreds of highly trained medical professionals and state-of-the-art equipment, the government also hires psychologists and social workers to manage the daily population of more than 1,350 seriously mentally ill detainees. The overall medical system is responsible for the huge decline in the mortality rate, from 29 in 2004 to seven in 2007.
Yet the mainstream media has over the years accused the government of providing dismal medical care for immigration detainees by focusing on a handful of isolated cases. A recently published congressional investigative report contradicts the assertion that there is a pervasive or persistent pattern of noncompliance across federal detention facilities. In fact, the report points out the significant challenge of providing medical care and treatment to more than 311,000 aliens detained in the government’s 300 facilities.
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