What’s Missing From the Health Care Bill

In the spring of 2010, President Barack Obama passed a momentous health care bill. Said bill dominated most of the political discourse during his first year; to date it constitutes one of the president’s most substantial achievements.

In dealing with the issue of health care, Democrats faced a choice of whether to concentrate on cutting costs or extending coverage to the uninsured. For better or worse they chose to focus on the latter. Due to this choice, the health care bill is estimated to extend health care insurance to 32 million out of a total 55 million uninsured people.

This leaves, however, some 23 million people who will not benefit from health care reform. Some of these individuals will opt-out of buying health insurance voluntarily; for instance, young people may decide to pay a fine rather than buy government-mandated health insurance.

There is, however, a substantial population – numbering something like six to eight million people – who were unilaterally denied the right to health care. These people are some of the most despised in the United States, living in constant fear and harassment. They are almost all poor, disadvantaged, and denied the opportunity to advance in American society. Even a straight-A college graduate belonging to this population is confined to menial labor.

The Obama administration has also been antagonistic with this group of people. Indeed, Mr. Obama’s health care bill explicitly prohibits undocumented immigrants from participating in the government programs it sets out. This is both terrible policy and naive politics.

Let’s start with the politics. The Obama administration decided not to include undocumented immigrants in order to win political support from Republicans – who are strongly opposed to undocumented immigration. If Democrats had included undocumented immigrants, Republicans would not have voted for the bill, and conservatives would not have supported health care reform.

Oh wait – that’s right, conservatives didn’t support the health care bill anyways, and not a single Republican voted for the final version. In fact, conservatives did absolutely everything they possibly could to oppose health care, whether it included undocumented immigrants or not. In effect, the Obama administration naively sacrificed one of the most abused groups in the United States to gain Republican support that did not exist in the first place.

That leaves the policy side of the equation – is insuring undocumented immigrants good policy? In fact, right now undocumented immigrants are insured; they are just done so in an extremely inefficient manner. This insurance is called the emergency room. There is little need to explain how using emergency room visits to treat undocumented immigrants causes soaring costs; immigrants without insurance delay treating illnesses until the last second, when things are far worse (and more expensive) than they otherwise would be. Then they cannot afford to pay, making costs go up for the hospital and therefore everybody else.

The solution is to provide health insurance to undocumented immigrants. This stops them from being a burden on government services – which ought to make conservatives happy – and lowers costs. It is also, by the way, the right thing to do. A shame that the Obama administration did not have the courage to do that.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

 

What’s Missing From the Health Care Bill

In the spring of 2010, President Barack Obama passed a momentous health care bill. Said bill dominated most of the political discourse during his first year; to date it constitutes one of the president’s most substantial achievements.

In dealing with the issue of health care, Democrats faced a choice of whether to concentrate on cutting costs or extending coverage to the uninsured. For better or worse they chose to focus on the latter. Due to this choice, the health care bill is estimated to extend health care insurance to 32 million out of a total 55 million uninsured people.

This leaves, however, some 23 million people who will not benefit from health care reform. Some of these individuals will opt-out of buying health insurance voluntarily; for instance, young people may decide to pay a fine rather than buy government-mandated health insurance.

There is, however, a substantial population – numbering something like six to eight million people – who were unilaterally denied the right to health care. These people are some of the most despised in the United States, living in constant fear and harassment. They are almost all poor, disadvantaged, and denied the opportunity to advance in American society. Even a straight-A college graduate belonging to this population is confined to menial labor.

The Obama administration has also been antagonistic with this group of people. Indeed, Mr. Obama’s health care bill explicitly prohibits undocumented immigrants from participating in the government programs it sets out. This is both terrible policy and naive politics.

Let’s start with the politics. The Obama administration decided not to include undocumented immigrants in order to win political support from Republicans – who are strongly opposed to undocumented immigration. If Democrats had included undocumented immigrants, Republicans would not have voted for the bill, and conservatives would not have supported health care reform.

Oh wait – that’s right, conservatives didn’t support the health care bill anyways, and not a single Republican voted for the final version. In fact, conservatives did absolutely everything they possibly could to oppose health care, whether it included undocumented immigrants or not. In effect, the Obama administration naively sacrificed one of the most abused groups in the United States to gain Republican support that did not exist in the first place.

That leaves the policy side of the equation – is insuring undocumented immigrants good policy? In fact, right now undocumented immigrants are insured; they are just done so in an extremely inefficient manner. This insurance is called the emergency room. There is little need to explain how using emergency room visits to treat undocumented immigrants causes soaring costs; immigrants without insurance delay treating illnesses until the last second, when things are far worse (and more expensive) than they otherwise would be. Then they cannot afford to pay, making costs go up for the hospital and therefore everybody else.

The solution is to provide health insurance to undocumented immigrants. This stops them from being a burden on government services – which ought to make conservatives happy – and lowers costs. It is also, by the way, the right thing to do. A shame that the Obama administration did not have the courage to do that.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

 

The Trail of Dreams encounters the KKK

From the Restore Fairness blog.

On January 1st, four courageous students embarked on a 1500-mile symbolic walk from Miami to Washington D.C. to strengthen and inspire the immigration movement. Inspired by the idea of non-violent resistance, the Trail of Dreams has been joined by hundreds of inspired folks who walk along with the students in small towns and cities, to stand together for the passage of the DREAM Act.

But Felipe, Gabby, Carlos and Juan have also met with their share of challenges along the way. Coping with limited resources, finding shelter at each stop on their journey, and being away from their families for four months, they have also had to contend with some opposition to their cause. Now in the deep south, the most recent, and decidedly the most jarring of these, has been their encounter with the Ku Klux Klan in Nahunta, Georgia last week.

Yes, we too thought the KKK had no place outside of the embarrassments of history. Apparently we were all wrong on that. While the group is not very strong or active nowadays, there are still a few thousand Klan members scattered around the country, 50 of whom decided to hold a rally “against the Latino invasion” in Georgia at the same time that the “dreamwalkers” were passing through the area. One of the students, 20 year old Juan Rodriguez, wrote about the encounter on the Trail of Dreams blog -

Today we drove to Nahunta, GA where the Ku Klux Klan was organizing an anti-immigrant demonstration, under the premise that “God put each race in their respective continent and they were meant to stay there”. I can’t help but keep being amused by these concepts that the very organization can’t seem to be able to uphold appropriately. Is the KKK secretly on a campaign to reclaim all lands back for the indigenous people of North America and preparing for the voyage back to Europe? I find this highly unlikely….It is disappointing that after so many years of social reformation, we still have organizations filled with so much hate convening and gaining the support of communities….Ultimately, the success of today was to be able to stand hand in hand with our friends from the NAACP; singing liberation songs together and acknowledging our united struggle for racial justice. We ALL deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

It seems unacceptable that while the walkers and the NAACP (who had organized a rally to counter the KKK) were promoting tolerance, dignity, and humanity, the KKK were propagating hatred and racism. And it’s far from over. After completing 600 miles of their walk, the four students are in a part of the country that is notorious for its anti-immigrant sentiment. This week they will enter Gwinnett County, Georgia, home of Sheriff Conway, known for his anti-immigrant stance.

It takes a lot of courage and determination to do what the dreamwalkers are doing and that’s why they need your support. Check where your Member of Congress stands on immigration reform and let them know what you think about it.

Photo courtesy of trail2010.org

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Law Enforcement Officer Says "Fire Arpaio" who has taken the law into his own hands

From the Restore Fairness blog.

An effective and powerful resistance movement launched against Sheriff Arpaio’s of Arizona is finally yielding results. The Sheriff, notorious for his controversial anti-immigration stance directed against communities of color, has been under investigation by the Department of Justice for alleged civil rights abuses, and is now part of a federal grand jury investigation for possible use of his office to intimidate local officials and political opponent who disagreed with him. Meanwhile, a large scale protest expecting ten to twenty thousand people is being organized for this Saturday in Phoenix, Arziona, to bring national attention to the hatred and extremism that Arpaio breeds, along with a need to put pressure to end the agreement with the federal government that allows him to practice immigration law.

Here is a guest post by Detective Alix Olson of Madison Police Department, Wisconsin featured on the Imagine 2050 blog decrying Sheriff Arpaio’s policies

In my 29-year career as a police officer and detective with the Madison Police Department, in Madison, Wisconsin, I have witnessed and experienced many instances of hatred, violence and racism. In most cases, those negative things were not initiated by law enforcement; sometimes, unfortunately, they were. The 95% of us who sincerely strive to “serve and protect” are tarnished by the 5% of us who intentionally “disserve and destroy.” Nowhere is this more apparent in current American law enforcement than in Maricopa County, Arizona, where Sheriff Joe Arpaio has taken the law into his own hands, at the expense of the Constitution, professional ethics, and proper police conduct. Earlier this year, the mayor of Phoenix wrote a letter to the U.S. attorney general’s office, asking the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division to investigate Arpaio’s aggressive illegal immigration crackdowns. Mayor Phil Brown wrote that Arpaio’s sweeps show “a pattern and practice of conduct that includes discriminatory harassment, improper stops, searches and arrests.”

Using local law enforcement to enforce Federal immigration laws, as Sheriff Arpaio is doing, weakens the very community links local police and sheriffs’ departments work so hard daily to maintain and build upon. Having community members who are afraid of local police should not be the goal of a department; instead, a far more wide-reaching and positive effect is gained by police-community trust, interaction and collaboration. This might sound too much like social work to Sheriff Arpaio, whose top-down, dictatorial methods favor humiliation, degradation, prisoner abuse, racial profiling, terrorizing Latino residents, and cavorting with local neo-Nazi groups. And according to a 2008 policy report on effective law enforcement by the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian-leaning watchdog group based in Phoenix, Sheriff Arpaio’s department “falls seriously short of fulfilling its mission.” The report found that Maricopa County has “diverted resources away from basic law-enforcement functions to highly publicized immigration sweeps, which are ineffective in policing illegal immigration.”

As we all know, police need the community’s trust to help solve crime and make our country stronger and safer for everyone living here, regardless of immigration status. I’m sure Sheriff Arpaio’s department is having a terrible time finding Latino witnesses and victims of crimes willing to report incidents or testify, but that supposes that he cares about them enough to take reports or help develop their cases for court in the first place. Dehumanizing is another strategy used by Sheriff Arpaio, parading inmates through the streets in funky clothes, “sheltering” them in sweltering desert tents, treating them like vermin, forgetting that he is as bound to them by a universal bond of humanity as much as he is bent on eradicating them.

When chief executives of local law enforcement agencies effectively target subgroups of persons who are not committing crimes, they not only alienate the community, they make it much harder for their agencies to recruit high caliber persons with integrity who reflect the faces of the community to take on the very hard job of policing. A sheriff like Joe Arpaio must have the hardest of times making those hires, and the more the world hears about him, the harder it is for more grounded, public spirited police agencies to hire the best of the best.

American law enforcement must demand the removal of Sheriff Arpaio from duty. He is truly a menace to the residents of Arizona, and our country. Simply stated, Sheriff Arpaio has marred the reputation of law enforcement for generations to come.

His warped sense of “justice” has no place in our society, unless we support Japanese internment camps, the ghetto-ization of African-Americans, and the deaths of countless Latinos attempting to survive their own countries’ destruction at the hands of US foreign and economic policies by struggling to come here to live, work and protect their families. I call upon the International Association of Chiefs of Police, as well as the US Department of Justice, to work diligently to remove him from the office he has squandered with racism and hate. Those of us in law enforcement working hard to build bridges of respect and trust with our communities don’t need another Theophilus Eugene “Bull” Connor erasing our progress.

Photo courtesy of www.puenteaz.org

Weekly Immigration Wire: Women Central to Immigration Story

by Nezua, TMC MediaWire Blogger

Celebrated stories of early American pioneers, explorers, and immigrants typically center around men of fortitude and bravery. Depictions of modern-day migrants are still very male-centric, and this cultural lens is a default in most cases. But women play a central and overlooked role in today's immigration story. Even when not directly highlighted, women often bear the weight of keeping families together and helping them grow stronger.

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