Exclusive–Ray: Open Borders Lobby Sees COVID-19 as Sick Opportunity to Paint Immigration Enforcement in Negative Light

Migrants stand in line Paul Ratje:AFP:Getty Images
Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images

When former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel reprised the Winston Churchill statement “Never let a good crisis go to waste” while recently referring to this nation’s battle with the coronavirus, he was all but signaling the path forward for this nation’s open borders, mass immigration lobby.

Why not use this crisis as a way to attack both immigration enforcement and recent actions by the Trump administration to ensure that immigrants demonstrate self-sufficiency and not rely on public welfare programs?

One of the clearest examples of this was seen early on during coronavirus press conferences when reporters badgered the president about the idea that illegal aliens will shy away from being tested for the coronavirus out of
fear being deported (see 1:12:21). The implication of this question was, of course, that if we suspended enforcement of our immigration laws, then it would greatly improve public health.

Of course, this reporter knew full well that emergency health care is never denied to anyone regardless of his or her immigration status. Furthermore, with cameras in virtually every corner of the country, there’s good reason why nobody can point to videos of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids on hospitals, with illegal aliens being removed on stretchers. It flat out doesn’t happen.

The fact is that there is little proof that illegal aliens have much or any fear at all freely accessing the whole host of this nation’s freebees. Actually, the exact opposite is true, as there is abundant data available to show that illegal aliens generously help themselves to just about any public program they can get their hands on.

As this 2017 cost study demonstrates, illegal aliens don’t blink an eye when showing up at local hospitals for any kind of care, ranging from childbearing to emergency services, which is why it costs taxpayers $29 billion annually. They also have little fear of signing up for the whole host of nutrition programs, including food stamps, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants and Children (WIC), costing taxpayers $9 billion annually. Nor are they demonstrably afraid of enrolling their children in our public schools for a free education, costing U.S. taxpayers $46 billion annually. Where, exactly, is the fear?

Another straw man argument being peddled by the open borders lobby is the idea immigrants will shy away from accessing medical treatment and testing for the coronavirus out of fear of triggering the new “public charge” rule that urges immigrants to be self sufficient. The implication here, of course, is that asking people to be self-sufficient once they immigrate here is not only immoral, but dangerous.

Shame on those who keep repeating this false narrative on television because it might actually scare immigrants away from accessing the care they need if they become infected with the coronavirus, The administration has been crystal clear in pointing out that accessing help during this national emergency was perfectly fine.

U.S. Customs and Immigration Services issued a lengthy alert to this effect, explaining very clearly how the new public charge rule “does not restrict access to testing, screening, or treatment of communicable diseases, including COVID-19.” The alert even indicates that immigrants who lose jobs because of COVID-19 social distancing measures and have to access public benefits could explain and justify this in their green card applications. This would be taken into consideration, “to the extent relevant and credible.”

The goal of U.S. immigration enforcement policy has never been to scare people from seeking emergency care when they need it, especially now while we’re dealing with this contagious and deadly pathogen that is stalking our nation. The goal of our immigration laws is to deter people from openly and willingly violating federal laws and ensure that everyone plays by the rules.

Unfortunately in their zest to take advantage of this “opportunity” presented by COVID-19, open immigration advocates and critics of immigration enforcement are simply trying to scare the rest of the nation into believing that any form of immigration enforcement will inevitably lead to catastrophic consequences for both legal and illegal aliens, and the rest of us, even when there is no evidence to support that supposition.
Dave Ray is director of communications at Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

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