Saturday, May 18, 2024

New Arizona Bill requires Hospitals to check Patients’ Immigration Status

A proposed measure in Arizona by Republican legislators would require hospitals to question a patient’s immigration status, leaving many fearing for the health of immigrants.

Critics of the law, including doctors, were quick to condemn it and say it may deter immigrants from seeking medical treatment.

“This is making us into a police state that will try to catch people when they are sick,” George Pauk, a retired doctor with Physicians for a National Health Program, said. “Do we want to stop sick people from coming in for health care?”

Supporters of the bill are not backing off and unapologetically reaffirmed their tough anti-immigrant stance.

“We’re going to enforce our laws without apology,” state Senate President Russell Pearce, the sponsor of the controversial SB 1070, said.  While that law remains in legal limbo with the US Justice Department and the most controversial parts of it remain on hold, including the mandate that police officers question a person’s immigration status, the latest anti-immigrant measure would take the immigration battle from the streets into hospital rooms.

Under the bill, SB 1405, hospital workers would be forced to question an individual’s legal status and report them to federal authorities if they are here illegally.  If a hospital fails to follow the law it could be sued.

Arizona Democrats criticized the bill for forcing hospital workers into the role of immigration law enforcers, taking away from their healthcare duties.

“The bill placed burden on hospitals to act as immigration agents,” state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Phoenix Democrat, wrote on Facebook. “Let them do their work!”

So far, the bill has had an unwelcome reception.  The Senate Judiciary Committee passed it up on Monday since it did not have enough votes to pass, but supporters remained undeterred saying they will seek approval in other committees.


AZ Central