Sunday, February 01, 2009

nativism and SCHIP

i honestly don't understand hostility to immigrants. it really makes no sense to me. if you really believe that the u.s. is the greatest country in the world, as any of the nativists seem to, then why wouldn't you understand and sympathize with other people's desire to come here?

i do somewhat understand the hostility towards illegal immigrants. there is, at least, a rule of law/why penalize the immigrants who play by he rules type of logic behind it. while i personally am not bothered by the existence of illegals (to me they're just a symptom the the fucked-upedness of our current legal immigration system), i at least understand why others might be bothered by them.

but hostility towards legal immigrants seems completely illogical. at least it makes no sense for anyone to be hostile who isn't a native american. the rest of us are all children of immigrants. our very existence here in this country is dependent on the fact that people immigrate here.

which is why the republican leadership's opposition to the SCHIP bill last week because it would end the five year waiting period for legal immigrants to participate in the program made no sense to me. what's the point in not extending full coverage to legal immigrants? senator john ensign explained that the bill would give "more incentives for folks to come to the United States, not just to participate in the American dream, but to get on the government dole[.]" but the SCHIP program isn't "the government dole" like welfare is. it's a program to cover the medical care for children of working parents who don't get family medical insurance through their work but aren't so poor that they qualify for medicaid. if you exclude the children of legal immigrants from SCHIP, aren't you giving an inventive for immigrants to not get a job so that their kids can get coverage through medicaid? a system where legal immigrants can have medical coverage for their kids if they are on welfare but lose it for five years if they get a job, that's the system that has an incentive for people to come to this country to get on the government dole. and that's the system that senator ensign was trying to maintain when he opposed the end of the 5-year waiting period for legal immigrants.

furthermore, if a benefit like SCHIP is only available to legal immigrants, doesn't that also create an incentive for people who come to this country to go the legal route? isn't that what senator ensign would want?

luckily, senator ensign lost the argument. the SCHIP bill passed the senate by a 2-to-1 margin. it still has to pass the house, but i don't think there's much chance that it won't. but i expect that the opponents will center their argument around this weird hostility to legal immigrants, even if their arguments don't really make any sense.