Christopher Columbus landed on the shores of America back 500 years ago in the year 1492. Were he and his crew the first illegal immigrants in America? The land was occupied by another group of people that didn’t grant these explorers the right to have whatever they please without acquiring some kind of legal status. The topic of legal status might have been irrelevant back in those days but it surely is an issue that is widely talked about in today’s America.
The issue of illegal immigrants has been a hot topic especially when it comes to discussing whether these people should be allowed to have health care provided by a government that doesn’t recognize their status. The ethical question that comes into play here is whether the opportunity to have health care is a human right or not? If it is, then the United States government would be doing an injustice by withholding health care from anyone regardless of their status in society.
This paper will discuss the reasons why the United States should grant illegal immigrants (specifically undocumented workers) publically financed services; the main focus will be on healthcare. Also, an analysis of James Dwyer’s argument “Illegal Immigrants, Health Care and Social Responsibility” will be provided near the conclusion of the paper. There are a number of reasons why the issue of illegal immigrants is such a concern.
With more people crossing the border into the United States in search of a better life, the work force is being affected tremendously, and our government is spending unthinkable amounts of tax dollars trying to keep the borders safe and the crime rates low. The first reason that government should grant public services, especially healthcare, to the undocumented workers is the simple fact that they are human beings. The main goal for healthcare is obviously to prevent the death and disability, to relieve pain and suffering, and to restore function to the body for a person in need (Array 191).
With these goals in mind, hospitals should not have the right to turn down anyone with one or all of these needs. If the reason a person would be turned down is simply because he/she can’t afford to pay for the medical costs, government should take care of this issue by providing them with affordable health insurance. If the government promised undocumented workers healthcare after they apply for legal documents, then these people would be gladly do it because of all the benefits that come with a legal status. What would the government benefit from taking this action?
Firstly, as illegal immigrants apply for documents, the government is given the opportunity to weed out people that don’t fit the criteria-such as criminals. Even though some of these people who are unfit somehow made it through the system, then the government would be able to have some sort of records that could help keep then in line. Secondly, the lives of these formally undocumented workers would take a turn for the best because they can now fully take advantage of whatever the American society has to offer without living a life full of fear.
For example, if a person robs their house, they won’t hesitate to call the police and take advantage of their services. Their happiness could lessen the tension in America when it comes to the issue of illegal immigrants. Thirdly, the government will probably not have to pay so much money to keep our borders safe. According to the White House website, Barack Obama’s budget will provide $44 billion to the Department of Homeland Security; this has gone up by $1 billion from last year (“Keeping America Safe and Secure”).
Illegal immigrants will be more willing to legally cross the border if the government gives them a chance to apply for documents; this would also benefit the people because they won’t have to risk their lives in order to safely cross the border. Border security will not have to be as tight and more of the tax dollars will go into more useful spending areas like education. The money saved could also be used to benefit the illegal immigrants. For example, provide some sort of shelter and fulfilling their needs.
Lastly, with illegal immigrants looking to gain legal status, the crime rate will most likely go down. Since the government will get a chance to screen the people who are applying for legal status, they will have more control of who gets in and who doesn’t. Government will be able to weed out the people who have no better reason to come to America than to set up illegal practices, such as anything drug related. If these kinds of people are kept out of the America, more focus will be placed upon the criminals that are already in the United States.
Crime rates will go down at this point and America will be a safer place to live in. If the government choses not get illegal immigrants to apply for legal status, then they would still have to grant illegal immigrants health care for some other reasons. Undocumented workers are hired in various low level jobs throughout the United States. Employers are obligated to provide health insurance for all their employees who are of legal status in America; however, they are not forced to do the same for illegal immigrants.
With this in mind, employers can take advantage of this loop hole just so that their companies can save some money. They would rather hire undocumented workers so that they won’t have to cover them in their insurance. The money they save from this action would most likely be put in their greedy pockets. Also, there is not telling how far employers might push these people in order to get the job done. There are millions of undocumented workers so employers would view them us an endless supply of cheap labor. If an employee gets hurt, an employer might just fire them and hire another one without any regrets.
If the government required that all employees in a company should be covered in the company’s insurance plan, then companies would be forced to provide a proper healthcare plan for illegal immigrants that work for them. This action by the government would also insure fair competition for employment between undocumented workers and blue-collar Americans (Romano 2). If employers aren’t forced to provide health insurance for undocumented workers, then they would only hire undocumented workers to save money. The blue-collar American would be left at a huge disadvantage.
Government should also force companies to have health insurance for illegal immigrants because they too run the risk of getting injured on the job; this is especially relevant because of the type of jobs they are forced to get. It would be unethical for an employer to expect a worker to take care of themselves after getting hurt under their facilities and care. Finally, another reason that the government should grant healthcare to all undocumented workers is because the overall health care costs would significantly be lowered for all Americans.
Most people think that tax payers would have a heavier burden to carry if government provides healthcare to illegal immigrants. With more illegal immigrants paying for health insurance, the competition between premiums will result in a decrease of costs for health insurance buyers. The government was created to protect the people from any corruption. It wouldn’t be right for this institution to not do it’s best to guarantee the best for its people. In this case, providing healthcare for illegal immigrants would not only benefit them but the American people as well.
In the article “Illegal Immigrants, Health Care, and Social Responsibility”, James Dwyer makes some arguments supporting the movement for providing illegal immigrants with proper health care regardless of their status here in the United States. He makes some good points when he points out that Americans have a biased thinking of the term ‘illegal immigrants’ because they only think of Mexicans. But in truth, the issue of illegal immigrants is dealt with all around the world (Dwyer 1). Dwyer starts of by accepting the fact that illegal immigrants do break the law in order for them to gain entry into a foreign nation.
But does that mean that they shouldn’t be able to rip the benefits of that land? Don’t the actual citizens of the nation break some sort of law that is put in place by the government? This is a valid point. There are people out there committing far worse crimes that the government should be paying them more attention. Also, undocumented workers might not be recognized by the government, but they still pay taxes like the rest of citizens of the nation (Dwyer 5). Whether a person might argue that the amount they pay is not enough is out of the question.
Illegal immigrants take up the jobs that no one else in society wants such as cleaning toilets and city streets. Compared to the amount of money they make, it’s arguable to say that the little taxes they pay is equivalent to what other members of society pay based of how much they make. Dwyer also argues that it is not the part of the physician to play police by reporting undocumented workers to the government when they seek treatment (Dwyer 8). It’s against a physician’s code to break the confidentiality agreement with a patient.
If a physician is to report anything about the patient, whether it’s about their health or their social status, then the physician would be acting unethically. The only purpose of the physician is to treat the patients that come to them with a health problem with no questions asked. Lastly, Dwyer argues that regardless of their social status, illegal immigrants are still members of a society. “Although they are not citizens or legal residents, they may be diligent workers, good neighbors, concerned parents, and active participants in community life” (Dwyer 10).
They should be treated like everyone else and that means they should have access to the same privileges offered by society. Dwyer does a good job of making his arguments. He doesn’t only approach the issue from one side. He brings up points that an opponent might argue and has a counterargument/response to the point. The issue of illegal immigration is a topic that will take a long time to fix. But they are human beings just like anyone else and health care should be offered to them; it’s the right thing to do.
Arras, John D. , Alex John London, and Bonnie Steinbock. Embryo Ehtics-The Moral Logic of Stem-Cell Research. 7th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. , 2009. 191. Dwyer, James. “Illegal Immigrants, Health Care, and Social Responsibility.. ” CBS Business Network Feb. 2004: 1-13. Web. 8 Dec 2010. <http://findarticles. com/p/articles/mi_go2103/is_1_34/ai_n6420698/? tag=content;col1>. “Keeping America Safe and Secure. ” Office of Management and Budget. The White House, n. d. Web. 8 Dec 2010. <http://www. whitehouse. gov/omb/factsheet_key_homeland/>. Romano, Andrew. “Wait a Second. Why Shouldn’t We Insure Illegals?. ” Newsweek 14 Sep. 2009: 1-2. Web. 8 Dec 2010. <http://www. newsweek. com/2009/09/13/wait-a-second- why-shouldn-t-we-insure-illegals. html>.