Yesterday, three Republican congressmen continued spreading the poorly fabricated myth that “criminal illegal aliens” will be covered by America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, despite the fact that the bill excludes undocumented immigrants from receiving federal funds to buy health insurance from either a private or government plan.
Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) and Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) relied on fear and misinformation to garner opposition to both immigration and health care reform to essentially kill two birds with one stone:
AKIN: If before we had trouble with people coming here illegally, if we give them free health insurance and health coverage that’s going to make it more attractive for them to come. So if you don’t like illegal immigration, then you’re not going to like this bill either…
BROUN: We don’t know how many illegal aliens are here — they’re not immigrants — they’re aliens. They’ve committed crimes, so they’re criminals…they’re guilty of many law infractions. This health care plan, Obamacare, is going to give every single one of those illegal aliens health insurance at the cost of taxpayers.
Akin and Broun apparently overlooked the section of the House’s health care bill that reads:
“Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.”
They also should’ve done some research before rattling on about immigration. The global economic recession has shown more than ever that the labor market, not health care, drives migration. Even if foreigners are under the false impression that undocumented immigrants in the US are receiving health care, in most cases it’s not going to be the reason they drop everything and leave.
Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) took a slightly less antagonistic approach:
AKIN: Is this bill going to give illegal immigrants health care?
FLEMING: About 10 million…that’s 10 million people who either should be here legally and then paying into the system and paying their way or they should go back home because they’re here illegally to begin with and that would not be a cost or a burden.
Though Fleming apparently didn’t coordinate with his colleague Rep. Steve King (R-IA) who put the number at 5.6 million yesterday, he provided a reasonable suggestion. That is, requiring all those in the country illegally to fix their status so that Republicans can stop using the immigration issue to drive a wedge through policy proposals they don’t like. Most undocumented immigrants actually do pay taxes, but maybe passing comprehensive immigration reform would force the “whacko wing” of the GOP to finally stop griping and grumbling about “illegal aliens” and start focusing on solving the issues at hand. Meanwhile, a policy designed to send 10 million undocumented immigrants “back home” would cost taxpayers at least $206 billion over five years, or $41.2 billion annually.