Providing Health Care for Illegal Aliens
Washington, Jan 21, 2004 - House of Representatives - January 21, 2004
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Bishop of Utah): Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 7, 2003, the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher) is recognized for 60 minutes.
Mr. ROHRABACHER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend my colleagues for that last special order, for the way that we are going to make sure that the young people in this country understand that drugs pose a threat to them is to have just this type of presentation in Congress and this type of discussion, serious discussion, with them as to the threat that drugs pose to their well-being.
With that, however, I would like to now, in my hour, raise a discussion on another issue that I believe is perhaps the most serious threat to the well-being of the American people. I have introduced a bill today that will give my colleagues a stark choice. They can do what will help big business, but will, at the same time, do great damage to the American people as a whole; or they can support the legislation that I am proposing, which will be a big step toward eliminating the greatest threat to the well-being of the American people.
Drugs is certainly a threat, but I will tell you that I believe the greatest threat to the American people as we stand here today is the still uncontrolled flood of illegal immigration into our society. All the other problems that we have, including drug use in our own country, are exacerbated by this uncontrolled flow of illegal immigrants into the United States of America. If we do not get control of this, it will surely destroy our country as we know it in the years ahead.
Yes, we can absorb legal immigrants in a fairly high number. I am proud that we have a little more than 1 million legal immigrants coming into our country every year, one-half of one percent of growth or so of our population. Certainly we can absorb that kind of immigration flow. But what we have had in these last 15 years, and especially in the last 10 years, is a massive increase in the flow of illegal immigrants into our country.
Perhaps it can be traced back to the 1986 amnesty bill that passed through this Congress and was signed into law, unfortunately, by my President, President Ronald Reagan. That bill was hard-fought on this House floor, and I understand that my colleague, Mr. Dan Lundgren, is the father of that portion of the bill that insisted on amnesty for those illegal immigrants that were already in the country.
Once that amnesty took place, once this legislation was passed in 1986, the word went out throughout the whole world that if you get to the United States, you are going to get the benefits of the people of the United States, and you can outwait the American people because we have such good hearts that there will be another amnesty, and yet another. The flow of illegal immigration after 1986, instead of decreasing, dramatically increased. Surprise, surprise.
No, the people who passed that need to take responsibility for their actions. That piece of legislation has caused great damage to us. In California, our schools, the education system, is under incredible pressure. Our criminal justice system is almost breaking down under the weight of illegal immigrants, with 30 and 40 percent of those who are held in incarceration at times being illegal immigrants. Our healthcare system, our emergency rooms are breaking down under the pressure and the strain of illegal immigrants. And that is what leads me to the legislation which I introduced today.
This legislation that I introduced today flows directly from a confrontation that I had with the leaders of this body over whether a provision should have been included in the Medicare reform bill that provided $1 billion in order to pay for the emergency healthcare for illegal immigrants in those States where illegal immigration is most prevalent.
I opposed that and I was not going to vote for the Medicare bill because of that, but the leadership in the House agreed that if I would vote for the Medicare bill, that I could write legislation that would, in some way, mitigate the damage that I felt was inherent in providing U.S. tax dollars officially to pay for services, health services, for people who have come to this country or are currently in this country illegally.
I voted for the Medicare bill. I voted for it before it went to the Senate. When it came back from the Senate I only voted for it with this understanding. So today the bill that I place into the hopper is in direct relationship to the Medicare bill that passed through this House, that, yes, indeed, took care of the prescription drug needs of many of our seniors, but, at the same time, did include an extraneous provision for providing $1 billion in healthcare for illegal immigrants.
With that, I would say that the hospitals and emergency rooms on our Nation's borders, especially those in California, are certainly now going broke trying to treat illegal aliens who are streaming into their facilities. And there is no doubt about this pressure. There is no doubt about the horrible impact that it is having.
But the reasons are twofold for the pressure on these hospitals and emergency rooms. Illegal aliens, first of all, normally, or at least quite often, if not normally, we do not have the exact statistics because they are operating in a black area of our society, we do not know all of the statistics about what illegal aliens have or do not have, we assume they are normally working at jobs with no healthcare benefits. Couple that with the fact that Congress insists and the law now insists that hospital emergency rooms treat every patient who walks through those doors of their emergency room, that they must be treated according to law.
America, with those two realities facing us, number one, that people who come here illegally generally are working at jobs without healthcare benefits, meaning the people who run the businesses do not provide them healthcare, but the taxpayers end up providing the health care, coupled with the fact that the emergency rooms feel that they are required by law to take care of anyone who walks through the door, what we have done is created a situation where America has now become the HMO to the whole world.
We are taking care of illegal immigrants, any illegal immigrant, who can get to our country and get to that emergency room. Sometimes we are not talking about just emergency treatment, about what common sense would tell us is emergency treatment; we are talking about extended cancer treatments, we are talking about treatments for diseases that are congenital, we are talking about diseases that someone clearly had when they came to the United States. We are talking about diseases that require hundreds of thousands of dollars, and sometimes even up to $1 million, in treatment.
With this Medicare bill that we provided, $1 billion for the emergency healthcare for illegal immigrants, that is the first time any money has been spent to provide services for illegal immigrants in our country, so this is a watershed. This is that moment.
In doing that, did that same bill try to fix the situation by enforcing our immigration laws on the border and insisting that these immigration laws be enforced if we provide that $1 billion? No, that was not in the bill. Did Congress try to fix the situation by saying that emergency rooms can turn away patients who are not in immediate danger of dying? To me that seems what an emergency is. An emergency is if someone is in immediate danger of dying, or if they are in immediate danger of something happening that will at that moment create a circumstance in their life or create something that is irreversible, a health reality in their life that is irreversible.
But, no, we did not put any restrictions on the emergency care rooms turning away patients because they really were not in emergencies, or just treating a case to a small degree until those people could go back to their own countries and get the rest of the treatment needed to become well. No, none of this was included in that Medicare bill. But $1 billion was.
The bill included no provisions to lower the cost of caring for illegal aliens by enforcing the law and deporting them. After all, if the taxpayers and the American people are going to end up paying for the healthcare of someone who has come into this country illegally, just ignored our laws or thumbed their noses at our laws, and now they are in need of some health treatment and they come to us asking us to take money out of our pocket, those people, if they are here illegally, after they are treated, at the very least, they should be deported.
That was not in that legislation either. The bill added $1 billion of funding for the healthcare of illegal aliens and did not even ask the hospitals to identify the illegal aliens they are treating, to identify them so that INS could deport them or take some action against them for being in our country illegally.
It did not do any of those things. What it did do is begin the process of shoveling tax dollars in the direction of providing services, officially providing services for people who are in this country illegally.
I will tell you now, there is no one in this body that does not know and understand that a $1 billion program like this starting off, just opening the door, is going to end up being a $50 billion program 10 years down the line. So it is time for us to act right now, before this $1 billion becomes $4 billion, which then becomes $10 billion, which then becomes $20 billion. It is time for us to use this moment, this opportunity, with the passage of the Medicare bill, to support legislation in the Congress that will at least be a first big step toward trying to see if we can get this illegal immigration issue under control, at least in the area of healthcare.
What I am proposing is very simple. The legislation that I just dropped into the hopper is not so complicated that people cannot understand it. First of all, it is totally voluntary. A hospital that does not want to receive Federal money under the program in that Medicare bill does not have to participate in this. So that is the first principle.
I would prefer that we make it mandatory, but this legislation is going way over to the other side in order to reach out and make this reasonable by saying if you are not going to get the Federal money for the illegals, if you are not going to apply for that, then what is required in this bill will not be required of you. But for the hospitals who do want that Federal funding, the bill is very easy to understand for these hospitals that want that Federal funding.
The hospital needs to ask patients if they are a citizen of the United States. How about that? How about that? They are going to have to ask, when they ask all those other questions when you go into that emergency room, they just have to ask are you a citizen of the United States? If the patient says yes, no further action is required of the hospital in terms of verifying whether that person is a citizen.
By the way, others can follow up on that. Others can follow up later to see if this person is or is not a citizen.
But if the patient says no, and he or she is not a citizen, the hospital then is required to ask what country the patient is from and what is their immigration status. If the patient is a documented alien, meaning that patient is here legally and is a legal immigrant, nothing needs more to be done, because nothing that I am proposing and our outrage about illegal immigration is not in any way an attack on legal immigrants. People who have come to this country legally have every right of every other citizen, and I know a lot of people now are trying to blur the difference between illegals and legals. That is doing a great disservice to the legal immigrants in our country. Most legal immigrants, I might add, are outraged by illegal immigration and by the fact that we provide services to illegal immigrants.
In fact, sometimes the legal immigrants and U.S. citizens end up having less bestowed upon them by our government than do the illegal immigrants. A U.S. citizen, for example, has to pay outside tuition in California to go to a junior college, but an illegal immigrant does not have to pay outside tuition. That was something that was passed by the California legislature.
If the alien is illegal, once he comes into the hospital, going back to this emergency room treatment, if the alien is illegal, the hospital must ask about the immigrant's employer and a biometric indicator, meaning a photo or a fingerprint, must be taken, to be determined by the Department of Homeland Security of whether it should be a thumb print or a picture; but that is what they have to do if this person who comes into the emergency room is an illegal immigrant and states for the record that he is an illegal immigrant. So we need to know who they are working for, and we need to know exactly what country they came from and get a fingerprint or a picture.
The hospital then uploads this information into a database that is now being set up by the Department of Health and Human Services and, of course, the Department of Homeland Security. Thus the information that we have collected will become available to the Department of Homeland Security and these other government agencies for national security purposes and, yes, for the purposes of immigration enforcement. There is nothing that would suggest that that information could not be used to immediately begin deportation proceedings against an illegal immigrant who is coming into our hospitals to get thousands of dollars, if not tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of free medical care from the taxpayers of the United States.
Thus we have the information available that is not now available if my bill passes. And at that point, I would hope that our Immigration and Naturalization Service and this administration and the people of the United States begin to demand that people who are in this country illegally be deported, especially if they have used tens of thousands and millions of dollars of public services like health care while they are here, because what they have done is taken that money directly from the well-being of the American people, their host.
This is wrong. It is wrong for us to permit our health care dollars that our seniors do not even get the type of coverage that we would like them to have, our veterans do not get the coverage we would like them to have; but yet we permit illegal immigrants to come into our emergency rooms, and without even any responsibility to be deported because they have come here illegally, they end up, oftentimes consuming, as I say, tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars of treatment.
This procedure of just asking are they legal or illegal and if they are illegal, getting this information, is not a burden on the hospital. It is just a couple of more questions to be asked routinely in the process in which they are already being asked questions before they treat patients. Once the hospital determines that a patient is undocumented, they take a simple fingerprint or a photo and then they just upload this information onto a government database. That is it. This is not a complicated process, although we are going to hear in the months ahead how horribly complicated it is and how people will have to wait there for hours to be treated and they will die by the thousands if they are just asked to do those two simple little tasks, along with the other questions that they ask people when they go into an emergency room.
Well, so far, my bill, what I am talking about, is very simple for the hospitals to comply with. But let me note there are some other significant provisions of this bill. The first is, the Department of Homeland Security, when it gets this information, the bill does suggest that they should begin deportation proceedings. And as I say, that will only happen if we make sure, because it is already on the books that someone who is here illegally, there should be deportation proceedings, but that law is not being enforced. We add this to the law again, and we hope and we pray that those people who are in decision-making positions in our government will start enforcing the law or change the law. But the way it is now, to permit this massive flow of illegal immigration into our country and the flagrant violation of the law that is going on, it degrades the respect for the law throughout our society.
So this is only common sense, that if we know that an illegal alien is in the United States, especially one that is consuming resources that are taking health care resources away from our people, they should be deported; and their own country should be taking care of them.
Secondly, and this is a provision of the bill, any employer, when they find out who the employer is, that is one of the questions they have to ask. Any employer who has not called the employment verification program, and again, this is going to be a nationwide program that will be in place in 2005, a program that will verify an employee's legal status, if any employer whose employee has gone into the emergency room and been treated and thus consumed all sorts of tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars, then if we find out that the employer has not called the employment verification program when he hired this illegal in the first place, well then, that employer will be liable for the illegal alien's emergency room costs.
We have businessmen who now exploit illegal aliens in order to give them a pittance of pay and no benefits. These employers, if they are not giving them benefits, they expect the taxpayers to pick up the health care costs. I am sorry, under this bill that is going to go back to the employers. The employers, if they are going to get the benefit of using these illegals, they are going to have to pay at least for their health care and not expect the U.S. citizens, their fellow U.S. citizens to pick up the cost, their cost of hiring this employee. So this is only fair.
Employers claim that American citizens, of course, will not take the jobs that illegal immigrants take. But
of course they will not take the jobs, especially if employers are not going to provide health insurance. If you are not providing health insurance, it is pretty hard to attract qualified American job seekers, and no businesses will be providing health care insurance for Americans if they can hire illegals and the taxpayers end up picking up their health care costs. This has been an incentive, illegal immigration has been an incentive for less wages and for less benefits, for the fact that a lot of employers do not offer health care anymore; and that can be tied directly back to the fact that we have a flow of millions and millions of illegals who are willing to work without health care benefits; and, of course, everybody is relying on the taxpayers just to pick up the bill. This lack of health insurance ends up putting the burden of an illegal alien's health care on the shoulders of the American taxpayer. That is wrong and we have to change that. This bill will change that.
I might add that this provision will initiate an eruption of opposition to this bill specifically for that, because we have had big business in this country who has gotten used to having the taxpayers pick up the health care costs that they should be providing their own employees, and they have been able to attract employees by hiring illegal immigrants. It keeps down wages and keeps down benefits.
Employers should pay the full cost for the illegal alien labor that they hire, including health care costs of illegal aliens that they run up in emergency rooms. And this is not, I would say, a huge burden on employers, although they are going to claim this. All we are talking about is that when an illegal alien or someone comes to them, whether it is apparent they are an illegal alien or not, comes to them for employment, that one of the things they do when filling out the paperwork for this new employee is call one phone number, one phone call to a Federal agency, make one check on the name of this potential employee, and if they do that and check and find out that this person is here legally, they have indemnified themselves from this liability and they will not have to then pay for that emergency room care. But if they do not even make that one phone call, why should we taxpayers pick up the bill? These employers obviously are trying not to verify that someone they are hiring is illegal, and then they are not giving them health care and we pick up the costs. Where does that come from? Right out of the same pot of money that takes care of our seniors, our own veterans, our own women and children in the United States of America. There is a limited amount of health care dollars. We should be spending it on our legal residents, whether they are legal immigrants and/or U.S. citizens.
So, anyway, I do not see how any employer can possibly object to just taking one step, a very quick step, to see if their future employee is here legally or not.
Third in the bill, and this is a very important factor in this bill, this bill does something that is important to the whole formula in that it limits the emergency care that a hospital is required to give. Because right now what we have is an illegal alien comes in, any type of health care that is required that is an emergency, that is deemed to be an emergency, we end up giving extensive health care way beyond just someone's life or death situation or someone's situation where their health status would be altered forever if a treatment is not given at that moment. No. We go way beyond that so often. What we suggest is the hospital is required to give just the care that is required to medically stabilize the illegal alien's condition, and it would stabilize them to the point that they can be deported back to their home country.
Now, we have seen, as I just said, we have seen illegal aliens obtaining organ transplants, advanced cancer treatments. There was a fellow in my district from El Salvador, it must have been about 10 years ago now, and this man had had $300,000 worth of cancer treatments. He was not a citizen; he was not even a legal immigrant. He was an illegal immigrant, and we had spent $300,000 on this man. That is a crime. If someone goes in and steals $100 from a grocery store, they are going to go to jail. Yet we permit people to illegally come into this country and take hundreds of thousands of dollars of treatment. The American taxpayer, as I say, cannot be the world's HMO. It is going to break us. It is already affecting the health care available to our own citizens in a very detrimental way.
Again, let me repeat: the American taxpayer cannot be the world's HMO. An illegal alien should be transported back to his or her country to receive any extraordinary care. Emergency care should only be for the temporary emergency where life is threatened at that moment. It is emphatically the responsibility of the illegal alien's own country to care for him; it is not the responsibility of the taxpayers of the United States or the Treasury of the United States Government. The foreign countries who our illegal aliens are coming from need to take care of their own citizens, not export their problem to the United States.
Let us note now for the record there are many, many incidences of people coming here specifically to get health care treatments. They come here and they are on a visa or something like that. That has got to stop, and especially if they have come here illegally and expect to get those same kinds of health care treatments. It is wrong. We should not do that, and it is hurting the well-being of our people.
Now, we are going to hear about how mean spirited it is to enforce our immigration laws and how mean spirited this proposal is. This bill will probably just generate the most incredible opposition and people pulling their hair out and saying how horrible we are. The motive behind this bill is a positive motive, and there is nothing wrong with loving your family and taking care of your family and taking care of the citizens of the United States and those people who are here legally. There is nothing wrong with having that motive.
But our motives will be attacked as if we hate other people from other countries. And they will try to blur the difference between illegal immigrants and legal immigrants. No, this bill is motivated out of love. And certainly and there is nothing wrong with anyone taking care of his family rather than giving money away to the point that his own family's health is not being taken care of.
And the fact is that some people are saying now, well, we cannot afford not to have these illegals around because we are used to cheap labor, as if cheap labor is something that is good for the American people. Well, as health care costs show, that labor really is not all that cheap when you include all the costs.
Illegal immigrant labor, there are lots of costs related to it that we are picking up as taxpayers that the businessman does not have to shoulder. Big business has shown that they are not interested in paying American wages and giving benefits to their workers if they can get away with hiring illegals who will work for lower wages. What big business wants is a huge pool of international labor so that corporations can force down wages.
Illegal immigration is having a horrible impact on all these government services that I am talking about, especially the health care. The legislation that I introduced today specifically deals with that. But let us note that the wages of all Americans are being affected and the benefits being offered to all Americans by their employers are being an affected by illegal immigration. American workers, no matter how competitive, cannot compete with Chinese slave labor or a Nigerian standard of living.
Huge corporations then are using the poor and desperate of the world because we are not enforcing our immigration laws to force the American middle-class to accept poverty as a price of holding a job. Well, we hear time and time again, well, Americans will not work for these lowly paid jobs. Well, that is nonsense. There are no jobs that Americans will not do. There are no jobs. I can repeat that. There is no job that an American will not do but there are lots of jobs that Americans will not do at the wages that are being offered for those jobs.
The answer to the labor shortage is not to import poor people from Bangladesh or to permit a flood of illegal immigrants into our country, but instead to raise the wages and benefits of the U.S. working people. We have a lot of people in this country who can work who are not going to work at those wages certainly because those are poverty wages. We have got a lot of businesses who will hire illegals now rather than hiring a person who is disabled and training that disabled American, that disabled veteran, perhaps, to do a job that can be beneficial to the country and he or she can earn his or her own way but the business will not do it. Instead they will they will hire an illegal immigrant who will work for half the price and does not require any special training because of a disability. And then if there is a disability on the job, the employer just waves good-bye and the taxpayers pick up all the costs.
The National Research Council in 1997 did a study showing immigration was responsible for a 44 percent drop in the wages for our people in the United States who were high school dropouts. Look, I do not like that some of our people are high school dropouts. I am sorry some of our people are at that lower end of the income level. But those are the people who are being hurt the most by illegal immigration.
The average immigrant has less than a high school education and so this makes perfect sense. It is Economics 101. If you increase the labor supply at that level where you have illegal immigrants coming in here who have less than a high school education and they are competing with our people who have less than a high school education, or are less educated people at the lower income of our country, guess what? If you increase the supply of that those people coming in, the wages will drop for those people who are already here, meaning our own people, legal immigrants and American citizens.
This has meant misery in many blue collar households who actually in this last 15 years since this 1986 amnesty they have seen their wages drop and their standard of living decrease because we have been insisting on importing uneducated illegal immigrants, or at least insisting that the flood of illegal immigrants coming into our country not be stopped. This has hurt millions of our own people, people who maybe now have been working at a higher standard of living but are not now working at a higher standard of living because illegals have taken that job at a lower wage and kept the wages down.
A good example of that is perhaps in my own case. When I was younger I worked as a janitor. The people who work as janitors today have perhaps the same income about the same level of income as I had when I worked as a janitor 30 years ago. I guess it might have been more than 30 years ago now, more like 40 years ago. Well, guess what? We have had an enormous increase in our standard of living in the GNP in those 40 years. Why should janitors not be making more money? Well, I will tell you why. Because if they would have not had a flood of illegal immigrants, you would have had machines and technology that would have been developed making that janitor much more efficient. Maybe he could clean 30 toilets or 100 toilets a night instead of 15 or 20. And that man could or woman could have been paid more money as a janitor. But instead what we have hired is illegals. And there has been no technology development that would make up for that.
And thus we have kept the wages of janitors down, those janitors should be American citizens earning a wage that would permit them to buy their own home, or at least to live at a decent standard of living. Instead we have a flood of illegals in and those people are not living well now because they are having to compete with people who have come here, the poorest of the poor from everywhere. That is not fair to the American people who shoulder the burdens of freedom all over the world and
shoulder the burdens of keeping our country the way it is. And they are hurting because of this flow of illegal immigration. The same National Research Council showed that the average immigrant household in California used $3,463 in taxpayer services. That is back in 1997.
If you were looking for why California has such a huge deficit, that is, and have a deficit bigger than all other 50 states combined, illegal immigration is probably the answer. This taxpayer funded largesse includes in California health care, education, police services.
And let us talk a little bit about the cost for each of these services. The American Hospital Association reported that its member facilities provided $21 billion in uncompensated health care services last year. Since illegal aliens accounted for 43 percent of those without health insurance in the country, we can assume that at least $9 billion of that total is attributable to illegal aliens. $9 billion. That is what business is calling cheap labor? This is cheap labor, $9 billion of costs added on to the American taxpayers?
All along the border from Texas to California dozens of hospitals have closed their emergency rooms because they can no longer survive the financial hemorrhaging caused by giving free health care to illegals. And do not underestimate the drawing power of free care. This brings people across our borders. Remember Jessica Santillian, an illegal alien who died after receiving not one but two heart transplants and a lung transplant in North Carolina. The Santillian family paid $5,000 to be smuggled across the border to get care knowing that it would take years to get any type of operation at all if they stayed in Mexico. There are American citizens who desperately need organs. They are being knocked out of line by a family and by families who break our law.
Then many of these families are coming here specifically to obtain a transplant or to obtain some sort of sophisticated health operation. This is a crime against our own citizens when we let that happen. It is not that we do not like that poor family in Mexico but we need to make sure that we keep the promise to our own citizens first before we expend our resources to those who have come here illegally from another country. And then, of course, the other country does not have the incentive to use their resources to build up their health care for their own people.
What about the children of illegal aliens? The total K-12 school expenditure for illegal immigrants cost the States $7.4 billion annually. That is enough to buy a computer for every American student, America's junior high schools.
Are you worried about school overcrowding? Hear anybody talk about overcrowding? You hear about that all the time. If the left wing teachers unions were not so allied with this cause of the illegal immigrants, we would find out exactly what is causing the crowding.
Let me note this, and this is a very incredible statement, without school-age illegal immigrants, the children that we are talking about, the children of illegal immigrants, school enrollment would not have risen at all during the past decade. Let me repeat that. School enrollment would have remained flat if it was not for unrestricted illegal immigration into our country.
So when one hears them talking about crowded schools, the answer is not to just spend more and more resources taking it away, again, from the other things that we need in our society in order to provide this service for illegal immigrants which then attracts even more illegal immigrants who care about their families and want their families to get this same largesse so they come here in even greater numbers.
But by far, the most disturbing is the impact illegal immigration is having on crime in California. In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide involve illegal aliens. Do you get that? In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide involve illegal aliens. And up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants are for illegal aliens. Illegal aliens commit crimes in the United States and then they flee the country.
Oh, as an aside, in California we have a particular problem, some of those flee to Mexico. And even when the criminal alien is known and their whereabouts are known to Mexico, the Mexican courts refuse to extradite them. By far the most outrageous case was that of David March, a Los Angeles County sheriff who was gunned down by an illegal alien who fled to Mexico and then only to have Mexico refuse to extradite a man who had blatantly murdered a police officer in California.
Almost 30 percent of Federal prisoners are now foreign born; 36 percent of illegal alien criminals are released from Federal prison; 36 percent of illegal alien criminals were released from Federal and several state prisons with no deportation review. You get this? Thirty-six percent of those illegal aliens in our prisons and jails get out with no review as if they should be deported. But yet they are here illegally; 80 of these illegal alien criminals have been arrested for new crimes.
Now, stop for just a minute and think about this: It is not just the cost of incarcerating illegal aliens, expensive as that is, which is $22,500 a year, for hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens. What is the cost to the American taxpayer of all of this? That $22,000, yeah, that is to the taxpayer, but what about their theft of property? What about the murders, the rapes and the assaults perpetrated by these criminals who come here illegally? And our government is so ineffective and so captive to corporate interests that we have permitted this massive flow of illegal immigration that is keeping down the wages of our people and is resulting in hardship and resulting in people suffering throughout our country. We do not even deport these criminals. When they are criminals we do not deport them when they get out of jail. These are not simple illegal aliens looking for a better life when they get out of jail, these are hardened criminals, many of them with ties to vicious drug gangs and violent criminal cartels and they are not deported? What is going on here?
And our system, rather than allowing a swift and certain deportation, in many cases simply released these predators into the American population so they can rub elbows with our families at the movie theater.
My friends, there is nothing conservative about a policy that has permitted this type of illegal immigration into our society with these horrific consequences to the American people.
But even more worrying are the implications in our war against terror. Several drug cartels are getting into the illegal alien smuggling business. The cartels will help smuggle anyone into the United States who pays. These vicious organizations have no hesitation about smuggling terrorists into the United States. And once in the United States, terrorists simply disappear into the huge sea of other illegal aliens.
Do we need this cheap labor that we are talking about? Is it really cheap labor?
I am telling you that the cost is too high. The price of overcrowding of schools, the price of collapsing emergency rooms, the rise of vicious crimes in our society, the holding down of the wages of our people, our working people, this is wrong. This is a price that we are paying. Our people should not be forced to pay this price simply because our government is not enforcing the law. But more importantly, is the United States willing to go the way of South America?
What kind of country are we producing when we permit millions of people to flood into our country every year? What is going to happen? And we keep wages down for our own people. We are creating a society with a wealthy privileged few on top and a huge class underneath who are barely surviving? Why are we doing this? Why are we permitting our country to be restructured where we have opportunity for all and our systems are working that can provide health and services and education services to our people? Why are we doing that?
Because America's big companies want a huge pool of cheap labor to drive down American labor costs to the level of China and Latin America and because the left wing of the Democratic Party wants to use illegal immigrants as a weapon for political power. That is it. The unholy alliance between the left wing of the Democratic Party and the big business wing of the Republican Party. I am sorry. That is clear.
Those of us who represent neither of those groups should start getting together and making sure we solve this problem.
These corporations that I am talking about have no stake in this country. Many of these great big corporations want to keep our labor. They go overseas the first time they can. They end up investing in Communist China, the world's worst human rights abuser. They are setting up factories in Vietnam. Then they insult our intelligence as well by asking us to give them an export-import bank guarantee on their loans so that when they set up these manufacturing companies overseas, the taxpayers will guarantee them. So they can set up the manufacturing there and use the cheap labor in order to put our people out of business. Our people get out of those manufacturing jobs and what happens? They end up competing with guess what here at home? A flood of illegal immigrants who are willing to do their job cheaper and they end up being unemployed.
What heartache, what misery this causes so many families in the United States of America. We are talking about alcoholism and drug use and family abuse. This is caused by the type of tensions by people who cannot get the jobs that their fathers and mothers had years ago, and they cannot be expected now to ever buy a new home or a new car. They are always worried a tire might go out because they cannot afford to fix the tire.
This is what we have relegated half of the American people to. It is wrong. Now do not get me wrong. I am for capitalism. I am for free enterprise. I am actually for free trade in a way because I believe in free trade between free people. I do not think our government should be promoting free trade and subsidizing our people going overseas to any country. Certainly, we should not be talking about developing the economies of China and other dictatorships; but I do not see anything wrong in trading with Australia and other free countries.
Also, this is not capitalism that we are talking about. I am for free trade and I am for free enterprise, but free enterprise does not mean that you artificially import labor into your country to keep labor costs low. That is ridiculous; that is not part of the free enterprise system.
The working people of this country are willing to fight and die to preserve the freedom of this country in order to be confronted with the idea that their wages are going to be kept down by a flood of illegals coming into our country and an unwillingness to enforce the immigration laws. That is absolutely wrong. That is absolutely wrong.
Democracies cannot survive without an educated middle class. And illegal immigration is destroying the viability of the American middle class. Our Founding Fathers envisioned a middle class of small tradesmen, of farmers who would have an education and the ability to govern themselves and to be independent factors in our economy. In fact, as we have seen over and over, a huge mass of desperate and poor and poorly educated people will quite often turn to the siren song of communism under certain circumstances like that where there is no hope.
We are creating an underclass in America, a permanent underclass of illegals and of our own people. These people, when they get desperate, they listen to the rantings and raving of communism or the bellicose musings of fascism. Democracy is based on a well-educated and
prosperous middle class. It has been America's greatest strength. To preserve this Republic, to protect the American middle class, we must stop the importation of cheap labor. We must stop the fact that we have a massive flow of illegals into this country. We keep the wages down and distort the progress that would be coming to the people on the lower levels of our economic tier here in our country.
Instead, the people in the lower levels of our economy are not rising. Their incomes are going down. Their expectations are going down. Their frustrations are going up. And they do not know why, but they do know that all the jobs are taken by people who are working for dirt wages and that their fathers had better jobs at better pay that were meaningful jobs.
Now, where do we start to turn this around? We can start by getting control of the health care that we provide those who come into this country illegally. At the very least let us stop right now. We have started a program, the first time that our country is spending any money officially to provide a service for people who are here illegally. That Medicare bill provides $1 billion for illegal alien health care services. It will be $50 billion 10 years from now if we do not do anything about it.
So let us do something about it now. Let us start turning the situation around now by focusing on this legislation that I drop today that will mitigate any bad impact of providing this billion dollars for emergency health care for illegals by making sure that we have these provisions, these provisions that will see that they are identified, their employers, identified, that a deportation proceeding moves forward if they are treated, and that the amount of treatment that they can receive when they are here illegally is limited to a life-threatening situation rather than providing extensive care for diseases that are not a crisis at that moment. We can start turning it around right now.
I would urge my colleagues to join me in this vital legislation to limit the health care to illegal aliens so that we can have that money available to the American people. I am going to be vilified for this. I know that. I had all sorts of press calls and everything after the leadership made the agreement with me to have this bill come to the floor. I know I am going to be vilified. I know people are going to say I am a mean, nasty person and that I do not care and that I am a racist or something like that. I am not and I have love in my heart for everybody.
I know that even the people who come here illegally are wonderful people, 90 percent of them are wonderful people. They just want to increase their own standard of living, a way to treat their family decently. But we cannot do this for the entire world. We cannot expect to see our own people suffer and to try to equalize them to every poor person in the world, and this will bring more and more people here. And if we care and we have love for our families, having love for your family and having love for the legal immigrants and the legal U.S. citizens that are here, that love for those people does not mean you hate someone else. That means you care for your family and you will take care of them first. That is what care means.
So I would ask the people who are reading this in the Congressional Record and my colleagues to look at this legislation. Let us turn the situation around now. Let us speak out. Let us make sure that we stand up for what America is supposed to be for. It is a land of opportunity, yes; but it is a land where one thing ties us together. We are Americans and we come from every race, every religion, every ethnic group. Here we are. We have come from every country in the world, and we have a proud immigrant heritage; and we are not shutting that off. I am not suggesting that we cut off the legal flow of immigrants into our country and we do about a million a year, which is more than all the rest of the world combined.
So what we need to do is to make sure that we take the people who are here legally and people who are U.S. citizens and recognize who ties us together as a Nation. Other countries have their own religion. Other countries have a traditional ethnic group or a race that makes them what they were; but what ties Americans together is a love of liberty, of freedom, of justice, of people who come here to be part of this American Dream.
Well, if we do not care about each other, if that spirit of caring does not, we do not have an ethnic tie to keep us together. We do not have one religion because there are people of every religious state here in America. That one religion does not keep us together. It is a love of liberty and justice and a commitment to opportunity and a caring for us all as all Americans as a family. We care about us.
What is the United States? United States. It is us. And just because we are saying that we are going to focus on caring about us does not mean that you have hatred in your heart towards someone else. And please, please open your hearts and open your consciences. Look at this issue, and I think you will see this is based on positive motives. We have to end the massive flow of illegal immigration into this country, or we will hurt the people that we care about. It will hurt us. It will hurt the United States if we continue down this path. The quickest way to turn it around is to start with this legislation, and it is going to be tough and there is going to be a lot of name calling; but I would ask you to join with me and let us save America and let us leave the other countries so they start providing a better life for their people overseas, rather than just trying to use us as an escape valve so they can send people who are dissatisfied here.
If we quit serving as that escape valve, they will have to have health care in Mexico and these other countries where they are coming here from overseas illegally. If we just keep taking people in, they will have lost their incentive.
So I ask my colleagues to look at this legislation. I thank you for providing this time.