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__Kratos__

'Border baby' boom strains S. Texas

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__Kratos__

RIO GRANDE CITY — First it was a trickle, now it's a flood.

Rising numbers of undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America are streaming into Texas to give birth, straining hospitals and costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, health officials say.

Doctors and health officials say they are overwhelmed by both the new arrivals and those immigrant mothers who already are in the state. Even Houston's feeling the pinch. An estimated 70 percent to 80 percent of the 10,587 births at Ben Taub General Hospital and Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital last year were to undocumented immigrants, administrators say.

Also feeling the strain is Starr County, an already poor South Texas county that has the region's only taxpayer-supported hospital district.

Immigrants "want a U.S.-born baby" and know that emergency room staffers don't collect any money up front, said Dr. Mario Rodriguez, an obstetrician in Starr County.

"The word is out: Come to Starr County and get delivered for free. Why pay $1,000 in Mexico when you can get it for free?" Rodriguez said.

''When we are separated only by the distance of the river, it's easy to do," Starr County hospital administrator Thalia Muñoz said. "It's gotten worse, and it's because the economy in Mexico is not good and because we provide all these benefits."

Unfortunately, doctors say, Starr County isn't alone.

''Our little snapshot is duplicated in all the municipalities between here and California," said Tony Falcon, a Rio Grande City physician who was appointed to the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission in April. ''What you see here is what is happening in Brownsville, McAllen, El Paso and San Diego."

He operates a private family clinic and delivers babies at the Starr County hospital. About a third of his deliveries are what he calls "walk-ins" — mothers in labor showing up at the ER.

''Obviously, it has a huge impact on patient health and the kind of health care that's provided," Falcon said. "You don't get the kind of prenatal care you should get."

'Anchor babies'

Immigration-control advocates regard the U.S.-born infants as "anchor babies" because they give their undocumented parents and relatives a way to petition for citizenship. They estimate that 360,000 of these babies are born in the U.S. every year and warn that the numbers are rising.

Once parents have an "anchor baby," they become more difficult to deport, said Jack Martin, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a lobby organization in Washington, D.C.

''It's a fairly big factor in complicating the removal of illegal aliens," Martin said. "Illegal aliens know that and, to some extent, we think they're being influenced into having children as soon as they get into the U.S. to complicate their removal."

Some lawmakers want to begin denying citizenship to babies born to illegal immigrants.

Birthright citizenship, as it is known, has been in force since the approval of the Constitution's 14th Amendment in 1868. But several bills under consideration in Congress would abolish the longstanding federal policy. Sponsors include U.S. Reps. Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson, and Nathan Deal, R-Ga.

In a largely symbolic move, the Michigan House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Sept. 8 to end birthright citizenship.

Undocumented immigrants say they are being attacked unfairly and think that all children born in the U.S. should have equal rights.

Socorro Gonzalez, an undocumented immigrant who in August gave birth to her fourth child on U.S. soil, said she and her husband aren't trying to take advantage of immigration laws or abuse the health care system.

''We're not here to have a child. We are here to work," she said as she cradled her infant son, Orlando Soto.

Gonzalez, 42, said she moved to South Texas four years ago to join her husband, a cabinet maker. Two of their older children were born at a private midwife's clinic, she said, and two were delivered at taxpayer expense at hospitals in McAllen.

Gonzalez said the benefits of undocumented immigrants' labor in the U.S. more than compensate for the costs of their medical bills.

''I don't see why they should deny a medical service if we're here struggling for this country," she said. ''Because of the help of Mexican workers, whether they want us or not, this country is progressing."

Still, someone has to pay the bills, and not everyone is happy about that.

Uncollected medical bills

Starr County Memorial Hospital had $3.6 million in uncollected medical bills in 2005, up from $1.5 million in 2002. The total when fiscal 2006 ends on Sept. 30 is expected to hit $3.9 million, chief financial officer Rafael Olivarez said. Unpaid bills for the past five years will reach nearly $13 million, he said.

To make up for the shortfall, Starr County's hospital district is proposing a 25 percent tax hike.

Already, the U.S. government is pitching in, setting aside $1 billion in Medicaid funds to pay for emergency care received by undocumented migrants over the next four years.

But Olivarez said getting the reimbursements isn't easy. Federal officials ''told us at a meeting they would pay us about 20 cents on the dollar," he said. "But it's better than nothing."

No one knows for sure how many undocumented immigrants there are or what they cost the health care system. Most hospitals don't ask whether patients have papers.

Total cost unknown

''It puts them in the position of being border police," said Amanda Engler, a spokeswoman for the Texas Hospital Association in Austin.

Harris County Hospital District officials say their policy is not to question patients directly about their citizenship.

''We do not explicitly ask if our patients are illegal, but we do ask them for proof of Harris County residency," district spokeswoman Shannon Rasp said. "Often citizenship status becomes clearer when billing issues come up."

Eighty-three percent of the undocumented immigrants receiving in-patient care at the district's hospitals and clinics last year were from Mexico, officials said. Six percent were from El Salvador or Guatemala. And the remaining 11 percent were from such countries as Britain, Canada, Haiti, India, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria and Vietnam.

''Using anecdotal information provided us by our staff, statistics from other public hospital systems and our patient demographics, we believe that approximately 70 to 80 percent of our obstetrics patients are undocumented," Rasp said.

In all, 57,072 patients visited the district's hospitals, clinics and health centers last year, and nearly a fifth were undocumented, Rasp said. The cost of their treatment was $97.3 million, up from $55 million in 2002.

Source

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Jeez :no: A serious problem that needs to be dealt with. :hmm: The tax payers are suffering for this and they shouldn't have to.

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Avinash_Tyagi

Meh its the law, once you're born here you're a citizen

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__Kratos__

Meh its the law, once you're born here you're a citizen

It shouldn't be anymore. The law was for former slave children anyways... That's well kind of old now and it should be revised.

It's just being abused. :hmm: Not to mention they like to skip out on the bill like great people. :rolleyes:

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Avinash_Tyagi

It shouldn't be anymore. The law was for former slave children anyways... That's well kind of old now and it should be revised.

It's just being abused. :hmm: Not to mention they like to skip out on the bill like great people. :rolleyes:

I don't know, it opens the door to allowing the government to restrict who is a citizen, and that just gives them too much power IMO

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__Kratos__

I don't know, it opens the door to allowing the government to restrict who is a citizen, and that just gives them too much power IMO

It would redefine it more then likely for legal immigrants and citizens. Which would be good because it would stop the abuses and make it easier to deal with new illegal immigrants.

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Avinash_Tyagi

It would redefine it more then likely for legal immigrants and citizens. Which would be good because it would stop the abuses and make it easier to deal with new illegal immigrants.

Problem is, once you redefine it once, it becomes that much easier to change it in the future (one reason why I don't like the thought of a ban on flag-burning, amendment), just by saying you have another problem with people abusing the privilage, plus it also leaves open the interpreation for "illegal" immigrants

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__Kratos__

Problem is, once you redefine it once, it becomes that much easier to change it in the future (one reason why I don't like the thought of a ban on flag-burning, amendment), just by saying you have another problem with people abusing the privilage, plus it also leaves open the interpreation for "illegal" immigrants

True, but it'd help to combat the problem.

Flag burning is completely different as it's a part of free speech.

The 14th was added in, it's not even part of the founding father's plans.

Interpreation? Well to put it in simpler words because they'll go over kill on legal words, if your parent isn't a legal or citizen you're up crap creek. It's not fair to the tax payers of this country to be abused to openly by those that want to break out laws to do so.

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IamsSon

Wow, I learned something today!!! I am an "anchor baby"!!!

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Avinash_Tyagi

True, but it'd help to combat the problem.

Flag burning is completely different as it's a part of free speech.

The 14th was added in, it's not even part of the founding father's plans.

Interpreation? Well to put it in simpler words because they'll go over kill on legal words, if your parent isn't a legal or citizen you're up crap creek. It's not fair to the tax payers of this country to be abused to openly by those that want to break out laws to do so.

Even Free speech is an amendment added, many founding fathers didn't want it in the constitution, there was a lot of disagrement at the time over it and the other

Which is why its called an amendment, to make changes to the constitution based on the changes to society.

The good thing about amendments is that they are hard to pass, and therefore have to be something that most americans want, a bill is much easier to pass

Whose to say thay won't expand the concept of illegal at any time?

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__Kratos__

Even Free speech is an amendment added, many founding fathers didn't want it in the constitution, there was a lot of disagrement at the time over it and the other

Which is why its called an amendment, to make changes to the constitution based on the changes to society.

The good thing about amendments is that they are hard to pass, and therefore have to be something that most americans want, a bill is much easier to pass

Whose to say thay won't expand the concept of illegal at any time?

Well, what point is having an old and useless law from after the Civil War still in affect today to be abused?

Who's to say it won't stay the same term? I mean, you're either legal or illegal. Even in the law there isn't much disagreement about that.

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Avinash_Tyagi

Well, what point is having an old and useless law from after the Civil War still in affect today to be abused?

Who's to say it won't stay the same term? I mean, you're either legal or illegal. Even in the law there isn't much disagreement about that.

Well not so useless, it makes sure you have due process, and the government can't ride roughshod over you, among other things :tu:

that doesn't answer my question, what's to stop them from changing their deinition of who is an illegal

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__Kratos__

Well not so useless, it makes sure you have due process, and the government can't ride roughshod over you, among other things :tu:

that doesn't answer my question, what's to stop them from changing their deinition of who is an illegal

It's useless from it's birth intentions. All the slaves have had their children and have died.

More then likely once revised, all of them will complain and whine so it'll be set. It could happen, but you know... A tree could fall over and kill you while you're juggling 3 dwarfs... Doesn't mean it's going to happen.

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Avinash_Tyagi

It's useless from it's birth intentions. All the slaves have had their children and have died.

More then likely once revised, all of them will complain and whine so it'll be set. It could happen, but you know... A tree could fall over and kill you while you're juggling 3 dwarfs... Doesn't mean it's going to happen.

Why stand under the tree that looks like it might fall over? :tu:

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__Kratos__

Why stand under the tree that looks like it might fall over? :tu:

A lot of trees that fall don't look like they're going to. :P

It's a gamble if you're soo worried that you're going to lose citizenship. But really, it's going to be against illegal immigrants and their anchor babies that rape the tax payers of billions each year and the price tag isn't getting any lower but rising each year.

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Avinash_Tyagi

A lot of trees that fall don't look like they're going to. :P

It's a gamble if you're soo worried that you're going to lose citizenship. But really, it's going to be against illegal immigrants and their anchor babies that rape the tax payers of billions each year and the price tag isn't getting any lower but rising each year.

Maybe it would just be used for that, but I don't like the idea of risking it, I prefer to limit the government's powers in such regards, makes me feel safer :tu:

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SnakeProphet

Get rid of them before they procreate. There, problem solved.

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Lord Umbarger

The law was enacted to prevent people from saying that blacks were not Americans. At thta time there was no real concern about people coming over from Mexico because we were in abuot the same boat as they were. AND we had just come out of a war!

Now it's just a loop hole that unscrupulous people take advantage of. Did you ever notice that they don't have a law like it in Mexico? Wonder why?

It's a leak that needs to be plugged. It's a threat to the nation and it's just not right. As far as the fear about the Government having the power to decide who is a citizen and who isn't, they already do that. Those that follow the immigration rules can become citizens. Those that are born here are citizens. Those rules in effect, are the governments way of deciding who is and isn't.

To be really assinign about it, we are the government, if you believe the Constitution. We have the right to say who's in and who's out.

Of course, all of this is a moot point because, we'll all be one big happy nation in a few years anyway.

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