Health Care for Illegal Aliens: Why It Is a Necessity

By Fallek, Shari B. | Houston Journal of International Law, Spring 1997 | Go to article overview
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Health Care for Illegal Aliens: Why It Is a Necessity

Fallek, Shari B., Houston Journal of International Law


The United States is presently experiencing growing restrictionist attitudes toward immigration and illegal aliens.(1) American citizens are becoming furious over what they perceive as a drainage of public funds being used to provide health care and other services to illegal aliens.(2) Because of this fury, measures are being considered that will actually end up being counterproductive in the long run.(3) Denying health benefits and other prevent those immigrants infected with contagious diseases from entering the country.


America began as a land open to all, but has since struggled to remain open and preserve the national bounty for those already here.(9) Since 1875, Congress has been placing restrictions on immigration.(10)

Despite this history, the Clinton administration has recently attempted a more moderate immigration policy.(11) In 1993, a new commissioner was appointed to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) who advocated "control with compassion."(12) Recently, the administration passed measures to increase border themselves, rather than waiting to apprehend illegal aliens after they have already entered the country.(18)

Illegal immigrants enter the country in many different ways, including entering without inspection or entering fraudulently or through misrepresentation.(19) There are many different opinions on the actual number of illegal aliens in this country. One study based on the 1980 census and INS records concluded that approximately two million illegal aliens were included in the 1980 census count.(20) Some reports propose that as many as three to eight million illegal aliens currently reside in this country.(21)

Immigrants come to the United States for various reasons. Reasons for immigration have been termed "push-pull" factors.(27) The "push" factors encourage immigratnts to depart their countries of origin, while the "pull" factors attract illegal aliens to the United States.(28) Past public policies, national migrant communities within the United States, and U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War are some factors which played a role in encouraging immigration to the United States.(29) However, as one commentator explains, "there is no broad, or simple, explanation for ... migration."30

The federal government constantly struggles to protect national interests by proposing stricter immigration laws.(31) States may, and do, propose economic regulations which limit aid to immigrants to protect welfare interests.(32) States reserved the police power to protect property and the public's health and welfare.(33)

California's Proposition 187 is one example of such state legislation. Proposition 187 reflects the growing anti-immigrant sentiment across the country.(34) These anti-immigrant attitudes appear to arise mostly from economic factors.(35)

Opinions range from the view that immigrants assist the economy by creating jobs to the opposing views that assert immigrants steal jobs from citizens and soak up social services.(36) For example, in California, a significant portion of the public blames illegal immigrants for state ills such as unemployment, high taxes, urban decay, and crime.(37)

In a speech to the House of Representatives, Representative Barbara Vucanovich of Nevada pleaded for stricter immigration measures with this same anti-immigrant attitude:

Whereas, The United States government social

budget increased from over $778 billion in 1991 to more

than $859 billion in 1992, due largely to the increase in

the number of illegal aliens, thus over-burdening our

national, state and local health, welfare and educational

systems; and

Whereas, Some immigrants, including illegal

aliens, unlike those of the past, now decline to assimilate,

and demand the right to vote and to have ballots

written in their own language; and

Whereas, our nation, which is experiencing an

increase in terrorism, lacks adequate safeguards insuring

immediate hearings and deportation of immigrants

without proper credentials or documentation, and few

facilities for detention where appropriate or for the

monitoring of undocumented aliens seeking political

asylum; and

Whereas, Admission of immigrants with

communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis and AIDS, result

in health problems of epidemic proportions and the care

of the infected and contagious aliens adds to our disease

control problems and strains the health care

systems .

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Health Care for Illegal Aliens: Why It Is a Necessity


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