It is a historic time for American politics as our Zoom-in party conventions are decidedly unconventional. The Democratic Party achieved new heights in diversity, first by choosing a female vice-presidential candidate of African and South Asian descent, and then surpassing even that landmark by naming the oldest presidential nominee in history.
Amongst the drama, lack of drama, pandemic, social distancing, hyperpolarization, and histrionics, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that policies make a difference.
Of particular concern is the Democratic ticket’s support for publicly funded healthcare for illegal immigrants. Both candidates support some form of government-funded universal healthcare, and have signaled coverage would extend to illegal immigrants at the expense of taxpayers. This is particularly troubling as the U.S. deals with the coronavirus pandemic.
During the first Democratic presidential debate in 2019, all of the candidates responded to a question about healthcare for illegal immigrants. As CNBC reported:
In the first Democrat debate last week, the 10 candidates on stage the second night on Thursday — including former Vice President Joe Biden as well as Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand — all raised their hands when asked who would offer health insurance to immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally.
Similarly, at a campaign stop in May of 2019, Biden told reporters he believed the U.S. was obligated to give “undocumented” immigrants free healthcare.
In an interview with CNN reporter Jake Tapper, Senator Harris similarly expressed her support for a Medicare-for-All style healthcare system in the U.S. that covers “any human.”
While universal health coverage is a policy issue worthy of public debate, extending that coverage to illegal immigrants should not be. Despite the pandemic, the candidates have not retracted their positions.
Universal healthcare coverage for illegal immigrants would:
1) Raise the overall cost of universal coverage with millions more people to cover at the expense of taxpayers. By one estimate, the total cost of providing Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare) insurance subsidies to illegal immigrants could be $22.6 billion annually. That figure would rise drastically with full universal coverage.
2) Encourage more illegal immigration with promised healthcare coverage. The promise of “free” healthcare, including treatment for COVID-19 and other expensive healthcare procedures would likely become a magnet for more illegal immigration.
It appears that increases in COVID-19 cases in southern border states were precipitated by surges of infected people crossing the border to obtain medical care in American hospitals. Some of them were American expats or legal permanent residents, but Border Patrol agents report that, in accord with policy, they have been transporting illegal Central American, Venezuelan, Cuban, and Ecuadoran border-crossers with coronavirus-like symptoms to U.S. hospitals. Since the hospitals and states do not release information on nationality or immigration status, we do not know the full picture.
For a nation to provide free healthcare for the world during a global pandemic is a recipe for disaster. First, it threatens to bankrupt the healthcare system. Second, it encourages infected people to make the trip to this country, spreading the virus as they travel.
To be fair, while former Vice President Biden and Senator Harris’s positions on healthcare coverage for illegal immigrants are troubling, both political parties share near equal responsibility for decades of bad immigration policy.
Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) does not endorse candidates or political parties. Instead, it formulates and advances policies and programs designed to stabilize the population of California, the U.S., and the world at levels that will preserve the environment and a good quality of life for all.