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Children shouldn't suffer due to illegal parents

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Posted: Wednesday, December 27, 2006 10:00 pm

Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, we all have reason to want our immigration system reformed. The system is broken and in need of repair.

However, how many of us had in mind the denial of basic Medicaid services to babies born to illegal immigrants in the United States? By virtue of the 14th Amendment, these children are U.S. citizens and so entitled to the same rights and services, to the full protection of the law, as other citizens.

But maybe not, according to the Bush administration. Previously, any child born to a woman receiving Medicaid for the birth was automatically eligible for a year of medical services. Now, under a recent Bush administration ruling, parents must file an application and provide documents to prove the child's citizenship.

In some states, obtaining a birth certificate may take weeks, and illegal immigrant parents may, understandably, shy away from dealing with government agencies who could report them to immigration authorities for deportation. In the meantime, the child, a U.S. citizen, goes without basic postnatal medical care.

As part of a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, cracking down on smugglers, exploitative employers and adult illegal aliens makes sense to me. But when President Bush called on Americans to create a "culture of life," how many of us had in mind cracking down on babies for decisions their parents make? Very few, I hope.

Please consider contacting your state and federal representative to protest this denial of vital medical services to children.

Sam Hatch

Lodi

First published: Thursday, December 28, 2006

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