Pelosi Statement on Defeat of Republican Bill to Turn Health Care Providers Into Immigration Enforcement Officers
May 18, 2004
Washington, D.C.-House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi today released the following statement in opposition to H.R. 3722, the Undocumented Alien Emergency Medical Assistance Amendments of 2004, sponsored by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). Under this bill, hospitals would not receive critical federal reimbursement for the emergency care of undocumented immigrants unless they question their emergency patients to determine their citizenship, immigration, and financial status and obtain employer information. The bill was defeated by a vote of 331-88:
"One of the great things about this country is that hospitals provide care for anyone who walks through their doors. This legislation fundamentally changes that by turning health care providers into immigration enforcement officers.
"Burdening hospitals and medical personnel with enforcing immigration laws will hinder their ability to fulfill their primary mission - tending to the sick and injured.
"Hospital caregivers are already overburdened with paperwork, which requires at least 30 minutes for every hour of patient care. Hospitals would also be forced to allocate funding for new non-medical equipment and personnel, diverting funds from patient care. Rather than force hospitals to create large immigration bureaucracies, Republicans should focus on making health care more affordable for the 44 million people who do not have health insurance.
"We have a responsibility to provide security and protection for our citizens. This legislation endangers our communities by exposing them to serious health risks if individuals with infectious diseases avoid treatment for fear of deportation.
"It is unacceptable for Republicans to divert money from already cash strapped hospitals and endinger public health-all to pay off the debt to a Republican member for his vote on another."