By Joe Guzzardi
February 17, 2012
Last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement appointed an alien advocate, Andrew Lorenz-Strait, who will "serve as a point of contact for individuals, including those in immigration proceedings…who have concerns, questions, recommendations or other issues they would like to raise."
Lorenz-Strait provides a high visibility symbol to those who think that President Obama hasn’t delivered on his pledge to pass comprehensive immigration reform or the DREAM Act.
Curiously, the Lorenz-Strait appointment coincides with two California incidents that prove that illegal immigrants have plenty of sway without a White House sounding board.
I’m specifically referring to Mexican nationals, Jesus Navarro and Roberto Rodriguez. Navarro and Rodriquez are former Pacific Steel employees who were fired when an ICE audit exposed their immigration status. About 200 other workers also lost their jobs at the Berkeley-based foundry. None, however, were arrested. A preliminary investigation revealed that one reason Pacific Steel preferred alien employees is because the company hoped to avoid various labor standards including the federal regulations that govern consecutive hours worked without a break and non-payment of time worked without a meal break.
Rodriguez filed a $31 million class action law suit on behalf of 1,000 former employees who claim to be owed about $20,000 each. While the two sides negotiate, no one will be deported. If form holds, the plaintiffs may qualify for Obama’s prosecutorial discretion amnesty and will get work permits so that they can be employed legally. In the end, everything looks like it will be hunky-dory.
In an important footnote to the case, a Pacific Steel spokesman told ABC News 7 that the company has replaced most of the fired 200, evidence that these are jobs Americans would do.
Then, there’s Navarro’s disturbing case. For six years, Navarro has been on the UC San Francisco’s transplant center’s waiting list for a new kidney. But when the hospital learned of Navarro’s illegal status and that he did not have any apparent financial means to pay for ongoing and expensive dialysis care as required by transplant ethics’ mandatory conditions, it cancelled the surgery. This is standard hospital procedure followed for all patients. In a statement explaining the guidelines, UCSF’s chief medical officer, Dr. Josh Adler, said: “Follow-up care is critical to transplant patients who otherwise may lose the organ and become less healthy than when they were on dialysis.”
But Navarro has an advocate, Oakland City Council President Ignacio de la Fuente. Because of de la Fuentes’ widely publicized, outspoken criticism and a website he helped create to gather signatures, UCSF caved to the outside pressure and agreed to proceed—at taxpayer expense.
Here are a few other head-scratching details. UCSF can only perform about 350 transplants annually; it has 5,000 people waiting. Yet an alien jumped to the head of the line.
And, according to medical sources, Mexico ranks among the “top international centers for having a kidney transplant, thanks to the low cost of the procedure, no waiting lines…and ultra-modern hospitals.” Navarro should be deported to Mexico where he could receive excellent care.
If Navarro’s case were isolated, one might overlook it. Instead, Navarro’s costly transplant is the latest in a long series of similar medically-related abuses. During the last decade, American hospitals have done dozens of organ transplants for aliens with the costs passed on to insured patients who then end up with higher premiums.
What more can Lorenz-Strait do for aliens than is already being successfully done by other advocates?
Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns, mostly about immigration and related social issues, since 1986. He is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) and his columns are syndicated in various U.S. newspapers and websites. Contact him at [email protected].