Fact Check — TRUE: Free Health Care for Illegal Aliens Would Increase Illegal Immigration

Members of a US-bound migrant caravan stand on a road after federal police briefly blocked
AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd

DETROIT, Michigan — Montana Governor Steve Bullock pushed back against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and others who supported free health care for illegal aliens, saying that doing so would create additional incentives for people to cross the border illegally.

Bullock said: “The discussion … shows how often these debates are detached from people’s lives. We got a hundred thousand people showing up at the border right now. If we decriminalize entry, if we give health care to everyone, we’ll have multiples of that. Don’t take my word — that was President Obama’s homeland security secretary that said that.”

Indeed, former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson did say that — at least on the topic of decriminalization, as the Washington Post noted earlier this month:

That is tantamount to declaring publicly that we have open borders,” said Jeh Johnson, who ran the Department of Homeland Security during President Barack Obama’s second term. “That is unworkable, unwise and does not have the support of a majority of American people or the Congress, and if we had such a policy, instead of 100,000 apprehensions a month, it will be multiples of that.”

The New York Times studied the issue earlier this month, and added (original links):

If the United States were to begin providing comprehensive health coverage to undocumented immigrants, it would be an outlier, health policy experts say. Even countries with universal, government-run coverage like Norway place tough restrictions on health care for undocumented immigrants.

The Times noted that there are different views on the effect of free health insurance on migration:

Randy Capps, a senior researcher at the Migration Policy Institute, said: “They are driven primarily by work opportunities and, more recently, dire climate, economic and security conditions. Health coverage is unlikely to change the equation given these much bigger migration push and pull factors.”

But Linda J. Blumberg, a health policy fellow at the Urban Institute, argued that a single- payer system, such as the one proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, could indeed create “strong incentives for people with serious health problems to enter the country or remain longer than their visas allow in order to get government-funded care.”

Certainly there is no one who thinks offering free health insurance would reduce illegal border crossings.

After Bullock, Rep. Tim Ryan added: “If you want to come into the country, you should at least ring the doorbell. … Everyone else in America is paying for their health care. I don’t think it is a stretch for us to ask undocumented people in the country to also pay for health care.”

Sanders responded simply by asserting that his “Medicare for All” policy would be able to afford covering everyone — including illegal aliens.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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