Monday, Jan 28, 2013, 12:18 pm
Republican Legislator Proposes Immigration Checks in Arizona Hospitals
In the latest from a state legislature notorious for draconian anti-immigrant measures, Arizona Republican state Rep. Steve Smith has proposed a bill requiring hospitals to check the immigration status of patients. The law, titled H.B. 2293, also mandates that hospitals report undocumented patients to the authorities. Last Thursday, Smith told ABC15 of Phoenix that he has "no clue" as to whether hospitals would enforce the rule, but maintained that the bill would serve principally for "data collection."
Critics of the law argue that the measure might dissuade undocumented immigrants from seeking emergency medical attention, and that hospitals do not have the jurisdiction or capability to be embroiled in the state's crusade against undocumented workers.
“When does this begin or end?” asked Pete Wertheim of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association to the Arizona Daily Sun. “What other industry should be screening their customers for citizenship verification?”"We cannot detain them,” he said of those suspected of being illegal immigrants. And he said not every one of the 1.2 million uninsured in Arizona — people who would lack the evidence of valid health insurance that triggers what Smith’s bill would require — are here illegally.
Smith has reportedly also lobbied for immigration checks in public schools.