Tuesday, August 5, 2008

US Hospitals Repatriate Ill and Injured Aliens

A little known practice of some U.S. hospitals is to repatriate seriously injured and ill immigrants with whom they are stuck because nursing homes will not take them off their hands for long-term care. It's all a matter of cost -- cheaper to pack them into an ambulance plane and ship them back home. There is supposedly an after-care plan. Whether that's followed or not is no longer the hospital's concern. These repatriations are done without the involvement of ICE and apply to legal and undocumented immigrants. Only American citizens qualify for long-term care under Medicaid, though the hospitals are required by federal law to provide for after-care. Some critics have called this "international patient dumping" -- similar to the practice that outraged the country a decade or so ago, of loading an uninsured patient in an ambulance and sending him off to another hospital. There is no federal agency overseeing the practice. The New York Times has published an in-depth article on medical repatriations along with case studies. Perhaps this will alert the Congress, at least to hold hearings.


The death of a undocumented Mexican in a street fight has stirred the small town of Shenandoah, Pa. The old coal-mining town was built by European, and for the most part Catholic immigrants. The tension that affected Hazleton, Pa, earlier this year seems to have spread through central Pennsylvania where the Hispanic population has grown recently. National Hispanics organizations do not view the incident as isolated and call it as a "hate crime". Local officials were stunned by the death, but have begun to hear of earlier incidents in the newly arrived Hispanic community. (See NY Times article.)

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