Bill Would Force Hospitals To Confirm Citizenship Prior To Care
Not satisfied with laws requiring immigration status checks by local law enforcement and employers, Arizona looks to take its anti-immigrant measures one step further by mandating immigration status checks by hospitals prior to giving care to patients.
Under SB 1405, hospital staff who discovered an undocumented person “must contact the local federal immigration office.” The bill is sponsored by State Senate President Russell Pearce, the same person behind SB 1070 and notorious anti-immigrant activist.
The measure was shelved yesterday due to a lack of votes, but that won’t stop proponents from lobbying hard for the measure.
Like SB 1070, this bill is not only mean-spirited but patently unconstitutional. Set aside the fact that if it passes it will force untold number of legal citizens and resident aliens to hunt for their passport prior to a trip to the emergency room, for example, it sets doctors and other hospital staff up to violate professional codes of conduct and potentially commit malpractice.
For those facilities that receive federal dollars in terms of Medicare and related monies, the 14th Amendment prohibits differing treatment of patients based on citizenship status. But given that the sponsor of the measure is on a crusade to unwind the 14th Amendment the fact that SB 1405 fails to comply with federal constitutional law clearly does not matter.
Withholding care, in any form, prior to confirmation of citizenship status is also morally offensive, particularly for a profession charged first with doing “no harm.” And it does nothing to address the crippling budget woes Arizona faces. At this point the GOP has so fully embraced a racially biased anti-Latino agenda that the only way these measures will go away is for Latinos and racially tolerant Americans to abandon the party all together.
photo courtesy of barnaby via Flickr