Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Crossroads of the failed Immigration Policies.

For an uninsured immigrant suffering a traumatic injury or serious illness, a trip to the wrong emergency room can lead to deportation, even if the immigrant is in the country legally, The New York Times reports. A hospital in Phoenix sent 19-year-old Antonio Torres on a four-hour trip back to Mexico after he showed up in the emergency room with catastrophic injuries from a car accident, despite the fierce protests of his parents.

He and his family were in the country legally, working in the alfalfa fields in Gila Bend, Ariz. While a deadly infection spread through his body as he stayed in a Mexican hospital, his parents found a hospital in California willing to treat him and got him back into the country in a donated ambulance. He recovered despite the dismal prognosis given to him by the hospital in Phoenix.

There are no formal regulations or guidelines for hospitals in the handling of patients like Torres, and they have access to limited federal financing to pay for their treatment, according to the Times, which examined similar cases across the country. Therefore, treatment can vary widely among hospitals left to make the decision whether to treat an uninsured immigrant and bear the costs or repatriate the patient, potentially risking the individual's life in the process.

As a result of the reporting done by the Times, the California Medical Association passed a resolution opposing enforced repatriation of patients. A similar resolution is being considered by the American Medical Association.

Click here to read the full history.

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