FEBRUARY 13, 2009
Struggling with a $55 million budget deficit, a northern California county became the state’s first to eliminate free non-urgent health care for illegal immigrants and a civil rights group was quick to label the move unconstitutional.
Like many counties throughout California, Sacramento’s public clinics offer illegal aliens free medical care at an annual cost of millions of dollars. Sacramento County had five such clinics but two were closed as a result of the budget crunch and the remaining three will check for the immigration status of all patients.
The move, approved 3-2 by the Board of Supervisors, is expected to save the ailing county about $2.4 million dollars. With a population of around 1.4 million, Sacramento County is California’s prime agricultural region which for years has benefited from the cheap labor of illegal immigrants and lax enforcement of immigration laws.
A substantial chunk of the Golden State’s estimated 3 million illegal immigrants live in the region and benefit from the county’s 16 public school districts, generous medical care and an array of other taxpayer-financed benefits.
Providing free medical care for illegal immigrants has consistently been one of the state’s largest expenses, an annual cost of $775 million according to a recent news report which cited a legislative analysis. California also spends $4 billion a year to educate illegal aliens, $970 million to incarcerate them and about $500 million on other welfare benefits.
To say it’s unconstitutional to slash these exorbitant programs in an effort to help law-abiding, tax-paying residents is absurd. In a letter to the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, the chairman of a well-known civil rights group asserts that denying illegal immigrants publicly-funded medical services actually violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides that no person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws.
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