Healthcare Options a Mixed Bag for Immigrants

In the United States, the issue of healthcare for all residents has long been an immigration issue as well.

One of the top controversies in the Nebraska Senate was over whether undocumented women residing in the state should be given access to state aid during their pregnancy. The measure passed on April 3, despite strong opposition from many state officials, including Governor Dave Heineman.

For terminal illness, however, many undocumented individuals are left on their own. Brenda Casten, a young woman who has lived in the United States for most of her life, was denied insurance coverage due to her lack of immigration forms, and so wasn’t able to apply for a bone marrow transplant that may have saved her life, according to The Coloradoan. Casten came to the United States at the age of 2, and was abandoned by her family by age 5, and, despite spending most of her life in the foster care system, never had her paperwork for a legal status finished. Casten left behind three children and her husband.

“She didn’t get all the chances she would have had if she had the nine numbers we all have,” Casten’s husband, Sean, told The Coloradoan. “Human life is supposed to be human life – not based on having a set of numbers.”

Ironically, many individuals in newly built and reformed detention centers offer world-class healthcare to all detainees.

“A detainee’s health care begins the moment they walk through the facility’s doors,” said Dr. Jon Krohmer, assistant director for ICE. “Within the first 12 hours of their admission, all detainees undergo a preliminary health screening, which includes an evaluation of the individual’s medical, dental and mental health status and within the next 14 days, a more detailed physical examination takes place.”