Cardinal: 'immoral' to deny undocumented migrants health care

Writing in the New York Times today, Cardinal Roger Mahony, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, says that denying undocumented immigrants necessary health care services through the current reform legislation is immoral and not in the nation’s well being.

Most studies estimate that more than 10 million undocumented immigrants live in our country. Many have been here for decades. The majority of these immigrants live in “mixed families” — some members of the family were born here, while other relatives are here without documents. … Most have their children in local schools, the vast majority of them have jobs here, and all are contributing to the betterment of our nation.

It makes no sense to deny this large population necessary health care services. It certainly does not help Americans as a whole to remain healthy when millions of people, including schoolchildren, cannot get basic preventive care like immunizations and medications.

At least the House bill allows undocumented immigrants to purchase health insurance from the proposed exchange. It’s difficult to understand anti-immigrant groups’ objections to this provision. No one would be rewarded for lacking proper documentation, since undocumented immigrants wouldn’t be eligible for subsidies.

The Senate bill takes us in the opposite direction and needs to be changed. How is the health of the entire country helped when the Senate will not even allow immigrants to use their own money to purchase their health insurance?

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