Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), recently told Michigan’s WXMI-GR news that the biggest growth in the uninsured has come from an increase in immigration — both legal and illegal. According to Krikorian, “From 1989 on, more than 70% of the increase in the total number of uninsured people is immigrants or their young kids.” Watch it:
CIS’ “findings” were also featured in Jerome Corsi’s Red Alert newsletter. Corsi is already well known for authoring two error-ridden anti-Obama books. His “controversial and often bizarre views,” include xenophobic government conspiracy theories as expressed in his book, “The Late Great USA: The Coming Merger With Mexico and Canada.” Stephen Camarota, Director of CIS Research, told Corsi, “It is not too much to say that the nation’s problem with those lacking health care insurance is being driven by the nation’s immigration policy.” Krikorian is also quoted as saying, “We don’t have an uninsured crisis…We have an immigration crisis.”
What Corsi, Krikorian, and Camarota all conveniently fail to mention is that there were years during the post-1989 period during which the number of uninsured native-born citizens dropped dramatically. By leaving out this significant piece of information, anti-immigrant zealots are able to make it look as if immigrants were a larger share of the total increase in the uninsured than is really the case.
In a personal email correspondence, Dr. Walter Ewing, Senior Researcher at the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) further criticizes CIS for muddying the national health care debate with their anti-immigrant agenda. “Given that nearly 80 percent of the uninsured adults and children in this country are U.S. citizens, it is difficult to fathom how Mark Krikorian can treat this as an immigration issue,” says Ewing.
Ezra Klein has pointed out that excluding immigrants from a national health care system, as groups like CIS advocate, could do more harm than good as unskilled or semi-skilled insured native workers are left to compete with cheaper uninsured undocumented immigrants. As CIS and their anti-immigrant allies exploit the health care issue to make the case against immigration, some have gone as far to argue that immigration reform which includes a legalization program for undocumented immigrants could actually solve labor cost disparities and pave the way for health care reform:
“Most immigrants—legal and illegal—to this country are hard-working, young, and in relatively good physical shape (especially compared to native-born Americans). They make far fewer demands on the public purse than, for example, the average retiring baby boomer. If placed on a pathway to citizenship, they comprise a potentially huge new block of taxpayers—taxpayers that could be critical to balancing the long-term ledger for health care, social security, and other entitlements.”