Immigration Bill Needs a Medical Exam

Friday, 09 Aug 2013 01:45 PM

By James Walsh

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The U.S. Senate’s immigration reform bill (S.744, aka the Gang-of-Eight bill) was passed by the Democrat-controlled Senate and is now in the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration — just in time for the summer break.
 
Political activists agree that the Senate bill has little chance in the House, where most members contend that any massive immigration bill (1000+ pages) is likely to be flawed. A judicious alternative will be incremental immigration bills that can be read and understood before voting — no more passing a bill to find out what is in it.
 
Among the reasons why the House should not consider the Senate immigration bill is its failure to address the need for medical examinations of illegal aliens applying for “legalization.” Whether the Senate’s failure to address health exams is accidental or intentional, it suggests a Democrat strategy of open borders — public health dangers be damned.
 
President Barack Obama, the Democrats, and much of the news media apparently choose to ignore the potential health risks raised by undocumented aliens. Some of the news media, however, indicate that Obamacare will worsen the U.S. doctor shortage, raise health costs, and lead to hospital closings.
 
On July 29, 2012, a New York Times syndicated article featured Obamacare and the doctor shortage, pointing out that extended coverage of the uninsured will exacerbate the problem. The article states, “The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015 the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed.” Patient services will be reduced for citizens and noncitizens alike.
 
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has granted thousands of Obamacare waivers to select groups, such as labor unions and other financial supporters of Obama. Even the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Employees Union (NTEU) has sought a waiver out of Obamacare. The president recently allowed congressional staffers to receive a 75 percent payment of healthcare premiums at taxpayer expense.

At the same time that Obama delays the mandate requiring employers to provide health insurance for employees, is his team looking to include Obamacare for non-citizens?
 
A Kaiser Health News report in 2013 states that although illegal aliens are allegedly denied access to Medicaid, they are receiving medical benefits costing $2 billion a year, and illegal aliens have health problems. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise that the rate of tuberculosis (TB) in foreign-born persons in the United States, legally or illegally, is 11.5 times higher than in U.S.-born persons.
 
On July 22, 2013, The Washington Post reported on the need for TB tests for the students and staff at Robert E. Lee High School in Fairfax County, Virginia. Three cases of TB were reported during the last school year, and pupils and faculty may have been exposed. 
 
Federal law requires medical examinations of aliens seeking legal admission to the United States. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (Sec. 212 (a) (1) (A)) and the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) authorize the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to regulate such exams.
 
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) and the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are required to identify those applicants who test positive for inadmissible health-related conditions.
 
Medical exams are mandatory for all persons, including refugees, who seek legal entry to the United States by way of immigrant visas. Aliens in the United States who apply for adjustment of their immigrant status to Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) are required to have a medical exam by a government-approved doctor.

Even non-immigrant visa holders, seeking temporary admission, may be required to undergo medical exams at the discretion of the consular officer or immigration officer at a port of entry.
 
Medical exams of legal immigrants date back to 1855, when the states processed incoming immigrants, albeit on a hit-and-miss basis. In 1891-92, due to a concern regarding the international spread of infectious diseases, the U.S. government assumed control of immigration and opened the Ellis Island Processing Center. Health examinations of all immigrants became mandatory.
 
In the early years, many immigrants were sent back from whence they came because of inadmissible medical conditions including TB, venereal diseases, and malaria.
 
A recent CDC report stated that, “As of 2010, nearly 11.7 million foreign-born residents from Mexico live in the United States or 29 percent of the foreign-born residents living in the U.S.”
 
Among Mexican immigrants, the CDC is concerned with chronic health conditions as well as communicable diseases such as rubella, rabies, TB, HIV/AIDS, and pandemic influenza. CDC reports do not distinguish legal from illegal immigrants, but legal immigrants had medical exams.
 
Apparently those persons relieved from deportation under President Obama’s various Executive Orders and Departmental regulations, along with those who would be granted “legalization” by the Senate immigration bill, require no medical exam.
 
It is high time for both chambers of Congress to take action to divert a medical disaster.
 
James H. Walsh was associate general counsel with the U.S. Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1983 to 1994. Read more reports from James Walsh — Click Here Now.
 
 
 
 

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