On Monday, June 15, the National Council of La Raza (La Raza), an open borders advocacy group, issued a statement calling upon Congress to ensure that illegal aliens are given health benefits if and when Congress considers health care reform.
La Raza’s statement “strongly urge[d] President Obama and Congress to make every effort to ensure that health care reform reaches all communities” in the United States, and stressed that “one out of every three uninsured persons and roughly 40% of all uninsured children [in the United States] are Latino,” and demanded “health care reform that makes coverage affordable and accessible for everyone–all families and all children.”
La Raza President and CEO Janet Murguía used the statement to emphasize that “everyone in the U.S. should contribute to a new health system,” and that “Latinos [would] accept their responsibility” to contribute to a new health care system and “will pay their fair share for the health coverage they need.” While the statement does not reference illegal immigration specifically, or distinguish between legal and illegal aliens, it does express concern that adding new, expensive verification and documentation procedures for immigrants would “severely restrict access to health care coverage.” (La Raza Press Release, June 15, 2009).
Specific research has shown that many illegal aliens lack health insurance and represent a disproportionate share of the United States’ uninsured population. The Pew Hispanic Center’s recent report, A Portrait of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States, found that 59% of illegal aliens in the United States had no form of health insurance in 2007, and that 45% of illegal alien children were also without health coverage in 2007. It also found that even the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens were insured at the low rate of 25%, and that there was a significant disparity between the volume of uninsured illegal aliens and the volume of uninsured U.S. citizens and other legal residents. (Pew Hispanic Center Report, April 14, 2009).
Pew’s information has support in federal statistics: data collected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Census Bureau for the same time frame show that approximately 33.2% of the foreign-born population in the United States (a category which does not differentiate between newly naturalized citizens, legal permanent residents, and illegal aliens) were uninsured in 2007, and that almost 10 million foreign-born non-citizens lacked health insurance in 2007. (DHS Fact Sheet, February 2009).
(For more information on how illegal immigration is financially impacting the U.S. health care system, see FAIR’s Legislative Updates for April 13, 2009, and April 20, 2009).