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News of the Day ... In Perspective

08/26/2006

Illegal aliens drive up ER costs, cause environmental problems at border

In one of a series of hearings occurring in 13 states over the month of August, a panel of the U.S. House of Representatives was told that TennCare pays about $15 million yearly in emergency care for illegal aliens. TennCare pays only for illegal aliens who would otherwise qualify for the program; the remainder of the burden falls on hospitals.

Gary Perrizo, director of accounting at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, estimates that his facility incurs $3.8 million in unreimbursed costs annually because of illegal aliens, a fraction of the more than $74 million total.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-GA) and Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) are concerned that many illegal immigrants were receiving care with forged documents. No evidence concerning the actual amounts was presented at the hearing (Tennessean 8/11/06).

In general, hearings have been poorly attended, and activists complained that citizens were given no opportunity to speak (Houston Chronicle 8/25/06).

Another cost of illegal immigration is that crossing routes are becoming buried in garbage. After 3 years of cleanups, federal government programs have cleaned up about 1% of the debris, removing 250,000 pounds of trash, more than 600 abandoned vehicles, and 1,725 abandoned bicycles. More than 50 miles of illegally made roads were rehabilitated.

Hikers in the Huachuca Mountains say they are almost wading through empty gallon water jugs.

The rotting garbage and human waste is a health hazard to humans, and also to wildlife. Trash is commonly found in bears’ stomachs.

The cost of removing all the trash in one area of southeastern Arizona is estimated to be about $4.5 million, not including the real trash hotbeds such as the Ironwood Forest National Monument. Without effective border controls, the task is believed to be impossible (Arizona Daily Star 7/30/05).

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