Hospitals would need to check the immigration status of uninsured patients under a new bill introduced by an Arizona lawmaker. Rep. Steve Smith’s (R) H.B. 2293 would require hospital staff to “reasonably confirm” patients’ status during check-in or treatment, and immediately report those who do not have the required papers to immigration officials.
Smith claimed it is a hospital’s civic duty to check immigration status:
“I would hope if you witnessed somebody who is not lawfully present in this country taking advantage of, getting, acquiring any benefit or social service or something that they’re not entitled to, or something they’re abusing or neglected, I would hope somebody would pick up the phone and go, ‘Maricopa police, Buckeye police, I think — I’m not sure — but I think this is happening.”’
The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association has already rejected the attempt to turn hospitals into another front for immigration enforcement: “When does this begin or end?” a spokesman said. “What other industry should be screening their customers for citizenship verification?” The National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights and National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health also called the measure “unconscionable” and legalized “harassment.” With roughly 19 percent of Arizona’s population lacking health insurance, the bill could deter many immigrants and their children from seeking care, as well as burden hospitals.