Nativists Hijack the Health Care Debate

Last week, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report on the treatment of non-citizens in the House health care bill that had anti-immigrant activists patting themselves on the back. "Case closed. Illegal aliens will be eligible to participate in the health care," said Dan Stein of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a designated hate group. However, President Obama has repeatedly affirmed the contrary, and there's specific language in both the House and Senate bills that explicitly excludes undocumented immigrants. In fact, the CRS report better illustrates how health care reform would hurt undocumented immigrants more than it helps them in the absence of any major reform of our immigration laws. But that hasn't stopped nativists from "whip[ping] up fear and anger" about immigrants and health care reform and effectively convincing many Americans that Democrats are blatantly lying to them about immigrant health care coverage, while "winking and nodding at the supporters of illegal immigration." As part of their tireless quest for any excuse to slam "Obamacare," hardcore health care reform opponents have welcomed their deceptive antics with open arms.



RIGHT-WING LIES: FAIR's messaging mirrors that of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and NumbersUSA -- all three of which "stand at the nexus of the American nativist movement."  The "nativist lobby" incessantly claims that there are "giant loopholes" in the health care bill. Their biggest qualm is that Democrats killed two Republican amendments that proposed harsh verification mechanisms to enforce sections of the House health care bill, which already explicitly exclude undocumented immigrants. This week, Mark Krikorian of CIS accused Democrats of blatant dishonesty shortly after writing that "supporters of Obamacare continue to deny" that "illegal aliens" will "receive taxpayer-funded subsidies." Krikorian diverts attention from the fact that the majority of uninsured people are U.S. citizens when he makes flashy statements about the high number of uninsured immigrants (legal and undocumented) and their children to argue that the problem is immigration, not health care. Finally, right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin came up with her own paranoid theory that "Obamacare" would not only cover "illegal lawbreakers, border jumpers, visa overstayers, and deportation fugitives," but is also a "means to amnestizing the entire illegal alien population."



Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.