A project of the Center for Community Change

Healthcare and Immigration Reform: Lies, Damned Lies, and

This week’s guest post from Robert Gittelson touches on the misinformation perpetuated by the likes of Joe Wilson and his band of anti’s, who are trying to use undocumented immigrants as scapegoat bargaining chips in their efforts to thwart health care reform. Robert lays out a strong argument for why we must use the facts when pushing back on these lies, but I also want to note that we must  lift up the hate and fear these types of lies stem from. Obama chose to use the phrase “illegal immigrant” this week, a phrase that dehumanizes the human faces of this issue. If we allow this type of speech and framing in the first place, we take the humanity out of what should be a human rights issue.

We must remember, first and foremost that:

If health care is a human right, then it inheres in one’s humanity, not in citizenship or legal status.

And thanks to Robert for letting me say my piece before posting his great work this week.

“Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is part of a phrase attributed to the 19th
Century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. It would appear that in it’s most recent reincarnation,the phrase is particularly applicable to the political strategy of our Republican party, especially in their stated campaigns of making Healthcare President Obama’s Waterloo, and of course in their determination to obstruct any type of comprehensive immigration reform bill.

I’ve stated in past articles that when the facts are on your side, argue the facts. The “anti’s” have one upped me. They have developed a better mouse trap. They have adopted a policy in which, when the facts are not on their side, they simply make up new facts. Clearly, they have determined that this strategy is a good one, because to date it has been working.
According to a recent NBC poll, (it)

“its regrettable how effective Republicans have been in shaping opinion on specific health care reform issues through misinformation and the use of fear tactics. When Americans are polled on the question that the proposed Heathcare Reform: Will give health insurance coverage to illegal immigrants? 55% responded  that it is likely to happen.”

The Republican leadership continues to stay this course. For example,
Senate Minority Whip John Kyl recently was called out on this by Roll Call,
when he stated to them,

“It’s a logical question for people to ask,” Kyl said during a conference call with reporters. “That illegal immigrants get care … it’s a big burden on hospitals,” Kyl said.

Now, the truth is that the only actual version of a bill that has been
proposed is House Bill 3200, which clearly states in several places, including page 132, section 242, that “people in the United Statesillegally are not eligible”.

 But why let pesky things like the actual facts get in the way of a perfectly good obstruction. Here is another fact: A law passed in 2005 requires applicants to Medicaid, which insures poor people, to prove their citizenship. Two years later, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform studied Medicaid enrollments in six states (including Kansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Washingtonand Wisconsin). It found only eight undocumented immigrants on the rolls.
And yet, our friends at F.A.I.R., who will soon stake out the capitol
in their “Hold Their Feet To The Fire” convention, (more accurately labeled “Let’s Add Fuel To The Fire”), just keep piling on with their own version of the facts: America’s health care system is in crisis: A key issue is the cost of the expansion, and that cost will be greatly influenced by the amount of coverage that becomes available to immigrants, including illegal aliens and their children—a sizable portion of the uninsured. Although a national total of annual unreimbursed medical expenses for undocumented immigrants is not available, it is likely that those costs are more than $10.5 billion.

I guess those eight undocumented immigrants must have really
socked it to the system.

Look, if fringe and emotionally charged “anti’s” such as Joe
Wilson have become the face of the Republican Party, that’s their problem. Let us not in any way confuse these out of control fear-mongers with mainstream Americans. Let’s keep our eye on the ball. The antis continue to control the news cycle – not with the quality of their ideas and character – but throughtheir unpatriotic antics and unprecedented distain for our duly electedPresident. Maybe the antis truly believe that he is an “illegal”, as these “birthers” would have us believe. Maybe they just don’t like him because he’sblack, (a more logical assumption, given their distain for people that don’t look exactly like they do).

I can only hope that their regrettable behavior will eventually cause a rebound effect. I believe that when the majority of Americans, (who after all did vote for Obama and change), start to look at the facts, and not the fiction, they will come around and push for fair and just reforms to our healthcare and immigration systems. Therefore, it is time for advocates of these causes to speak out, and set the records straight.

The antis are gaining in the polls because they are the only ones making any noise, andthe media abhors a vacuum. If the facts are on our side, we must argue the facts. Okay, so let’s start arguing!

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