JUNE 01, 2009
A county commissioner’s proposal to deny illegal immigrants costly public health services in the midst of a financial crisis has been struck down as racist for threatening to provoke violence against Latinos.
The lawmaker in northwest Washington State’s Clark County offered the measure this week in a much-needed effort to cut costs. Under his plan public facilities operated by the county would simply withhold medical care from people without valid Social Security numbers.
The idea ignited a firestorm with accusations of racism and a fellow commissioner calling the proposal a “harassing tactic.” Latino civil rights advocates said the commissioner (Tom Mielke) who introduced the plan is implicitly racist and his comments threaten to provoke violence against all Latinos.
Like many municipalities around the nation, Clark County, with a population of nearly 400,000, is trying to find ways to save money during the financial crunch and cutting U.S. taxpayer-financed medical care for illegal aliens seems like an obvious move. Even officials in a notorious illegal immigrant sanctuary border state (California) realize it.
That’s why this year two counties in the (not so) Golden State eliminated free non-urgent health care at public clinics for illegal aliens. Struggling with a $55 million budget deficit, Sacramento County was the first after its Board of Supervisors approved a measure that will save taxpayers $2.4 million.
Contra Costa County, one of nine in the notoriously liberal San Francisco Bay area, followed suit a month later by passing a law that will save taxpayers $6 million by eliminating free medical services to 5,500 illegal immigrants. Immigrant rights advocates say the laws are unconstitutional and accuse officials in both cities of being racist.
Mexico’s government has long promoted America’s generous public health centers. It even operates a Spanish-language program (Ventanillas de Salud, Health Windows) in about a dozen U.S. cities that refers its nationals—living in the country illegally—to clinics where they can get free medical care without being turned over to immigration authorities. U.S. taxpayers have for years picked up the multi billion-dollar tab.
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