Friday, September 11, 2009

Papers, Please

According to PolitiFact, the fact-checking blog of the St. Petersburg Times, the House Republicans’ response to the outburst of Rep. Joe Wilson’s claim that healthcare reform would cover illegal immigrants was “Nothing in any of the Democrat bills would require individuals to verify their citizenship or identity prior to receiving taxpayer-subsidized benefits.”

As PolitiFact points out, the bill is silent on the specifics but it does lay the groundwork for eligibility checks. That’s different from saying the bill would pay for the healthcare of undocumented patients, and there is a specific clause in the bill that states that no payments would be made for those who are in the country illegally.

It also brings up another interesting question. In order to determine whether or not someone is here legally, they’re going to have to prove it. How? Documented immigrants are issued a “green card,” but what about those of us who were born here? Should everyone carry around their birth certificate? (No, wait… those can be faked, right?) A passport? A national identity card? But I thought the conservative mantra was limited government; no Big Brother. Issuing every citizen a national identity card is the pinnacle of government intrusion. Passports are voluntary; you don’t have to get one if you’re not planning to go out of the country. But requiring everyone to carry a card with their personal identification information? Wow, the prospects for fraud, identity theft, and black market (not to mention the fake id market at frats on every college campus) would go through the roof.

I have no problem denying healthcare to people who are here illegally, or making them pay for it; you would have to be heartless to demand payment while someone lies bleeding out in an ER. The trick is figuring out who that is.