"Pawlenty called out on false claim that large numbers of undocumented immigrants are using public services."
Today on ABC’s This Week, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) defended Rep. Joe “You Lie!” Wilson’s (R-SC) concern that undocumented immigrants would be able to get federal health care benefits. Although Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated that President Obama and Congress have made it clear that undocumented immigrants shouldn’t “have access to the new health insurance exchange,” Pawlenty claimed that they will still will “show up” and “get the services” because no one checks their citizenship status. When Stephanopoulos called out his inaccurate claim, Pawlenty stumbled for a response:
PAWLENTY: Well, there’s a missing piece here, George. And even if you have language that says illegal immigrants will not be a part of this program — unless you have the enforcement mechanism in place, it doesn’t mean much. In Minnesota, we have laws that say illegal immigrants won’t get many services, but unless somebody actually checks, guess what, they show up and they get the services.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There’s been a study done by the House Oversight Committee that showed these Medicaid provisions, they spent about $8 million to enforce and they caught eight illegal immigrants.
PAWLENTY: Well, clearly, though, if you have a law that’s unenforced, it isn’t much of a law. So first of all, if the secretary is saying we’re going to have a provision in the bill that says illegal immigrants will not be covered, that’s progress, but we also need to make sure we can back that up with proper enforcement.
Over at the Wonk Room, Igor Volsky has more on Pawlenty’s inaccurate claim and points out that “documentation requirements may be weeding out more eligible applicants than illegals.”