The Torres Family
This must-read article
from the New York Times over the weekend explores the disastrous confluence of our broken immigration and health care systems. The well-reported tale describes how the parents of Antonio Torres, a comatose, uninsured, legal immigrant, were told by hospital officials in Phoenix to take their son off life support because “We can’t keep someone forever.”
When the parents refused to pull the plug, the hospital shipped their son across the border to Mexico, over the family’s strenuous objections. Through Herculean effort, the family managed to get their son back to the U.S. and admitted to a hospital in California, where he made a nearly full recovery.
"This was a kid who came to this country legally, worked here legally and had an accident," says the president of another U.S. hospital. "For God's sake, don't we take care of our folk? To me, this case shows one of the disastrously broken pieces of our health care system."
Indeed. This is a problem from hell.
Hospitals are overcrowded and surging numbers of uninsured immigrants aren’t making things easier. Still, it’s a disgrace when the wealthiest nation on earth dumps critically injured human beings across the border to a developing nation to die. Intractable problems like this are the result of a Republican president and Republican Congress that could not figure out how to pass immigration or healthcare reform. While Bush and the Senate came up with reasonable immigration policy back in the summer of ’06, the initiative stalled because of the fringes of the conservative base. Now we are left with this mess and it nearly cost Antonio Torres his life.
I think his father put it best when he told the Times, "In Arizona, apparently, they see us as beasts of burden that can be dumped back over the border when we have outlived our usefulness.”