Should immigrants in the United States illegally have access to social services such as health care and public education?
Francine J. Lipman, MBA, LLM, Professor of Law at Chapman University School of Law, in a Nov. 28, 2007 email response to ProCon.org, wrote the following:
"Unauthorized workers are a critical component of our micro and macro economies today and in the projected next several decades as almost 78 million boomers prepare to retire and leave the work force. Unauthorized workers should have access to housing and any other goods and services that they choose to consume. In addition, unauthorized workers who must and do contribute to our tax revenues should benefit from social services to the same extent as similarly situated legal U.S. residents."
Sheldon Rampton, Research Director at the Center for Media & Democracy, in a Nov. 30, 2007 email response to ProCon.org, provided the following:
"...I think it is both unethical and impractical to attempt to deny them [immigrants in the United States illegally] access to public services. Some public services, such as bus transportation, subways, water utilities, or highways, are so widely used that denying service to illegal aliens would simply be impractical for cost reasons. Denying access to other public services hurts the entire community.
If an illegal alien is raped or robbed, I want that person to have access to police services because otherwise the person who committed that crime is less likely to be captured, which makes everyone -- legal and illegal alike -- less safe. Likewise, denying access to health care increases the risk of disease spreading to the entire community.
If someone is living in the United States -- legally or not -- it is in everyone's best interests to do what we can to ensure that they lead healthy and productive lives."
Jeffrey T. Kullgren, MD, MPH (Master of Public Health), Clinical Fellow in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, in an Oct. 2003 American Journal of Public Health paper titled "Restrictions on Undocumented Immigrants’ Access to Health Services: The Public Health Implications of Welfare Reform," wrote:
"...limiting undocumented immigrants’ access to health services weakens efforts to fight the spread of communicable diseases among the general population... conditions such as tuberculosis are not always easily detected as communicable diseases.
In addition, many cases of infectious disease are identified not when symptoms manifest themselves but when patients seek medical care for other unrelated conditions. Consequently, identifying and treating communicable diseases in their earliest stages requires that undocumented immigrants be able to access services for all health conditions—not just those that have progressed to an emergency level or include symptoms of infectious disease—before others in the community are exposed...
Given the significant threats posed by limits on undocumented immigrants’ access to health services, the public health community should pursue a range of strategies to circumvent the barriers erected by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996."
Joe Scarnati, Pennsylvania State Senator (R-Brockway), in a Summer 2007 letter titled "Scarnati to Illegal Aliens – NO MORE BENEFITS," from its Legislative Update website section, wrote:
"Many states are enacting tougher immigration laws, and it’s time for Pennsylvania to follow suit and stop providing government benefits and services to the growing number of illegal aliens entering our country. Pennsylvania residents should not be asked to sacrifice their hard-earned dollars to support those who have entered this country illegally. That’s why I recently introduced legislation in the Senate [2007 Pennsylvania State Bill 9(PDF) 8 KB] that would prohibit illegal aliens who are living in Pennsylvania from receiving public benefits, including Medicaid, welfare and in-state college tuition and face tighter scrutiny when applying for services..."
Richard Jones, MS, Sheriff of Butler County in Ohio, in a Dec. 6, 2007 email response to ProCon.org, responded:
"No. For example, there are American senior citizens that should have these benefits and do not because illegal aliens are sucking the system dry. A 'sucking sound' that can be heard around the world. The more people of the world hear of free public services, the more they try to sneak in. This is one of the most important reasons to secure the borders. These services were meant for American citizens."
Eugene A. Delgaudio, Sterling District Supervisor of Loudoun County, Virginia, in a July 17, 2007 News section retrived from his website titled "A New Beginning," offered the following:
"Illegal immigration is taking a greater and greater toll on this community... While lax federal and state enforcement allows the problem to develop, local government is also at fault when it rewards law-breakers with access to free taxpayer-funded services. Giving away free services to people whose very presence is a felony is unfair to people who obey the law. More and more of their own money goes to support lawbreakers and subsidized increasing problems of overcrowding, litter and gang crime. It's an insult to native-born taxpayers and taxpayers who took the time and effort to come here legally. We must be responsible, both fiscally and legally. That is why we are introducing this item [2007 Loudoun County Resolution(PDF) 28 KB] to begin the process of legally terminating taxpayer-funded services to illegal aliens.."
USA Today, in an online survey titled "Quick Question, Illegal Immigration, Should Illegal Immigrants Be Allowed to Use Public Services?" conducted in Dec. 2007, obtained the following results from 2,981 readers:
Do Not Know
"Should Illegal Immigrants Be Allowed to Use Public Services?"
The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a public opinion syurvey conducted from Feb. 21-28, 2006 and titled "Illegal Immigration Worries Immigrant Descendants, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Most U.S. Voters Say Cut Benefits," obtained the following results from 1,892 registered voters nationwide:
Do Not Know / Not Available
"Do you support or oppose requiring proof of legal residency in order to obtain government benefits?"