Raising Hell in Arizona

One of the great and terrible things about the Internet is
the anonymity that it provides. This morning, Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer
wrote an opinion piece regarding the potential repercussions of Arizona's new,
aggressively anti-immigrant legislation. I rarely comment on online articles
and after seeing the postings to Andres' column, I remember why.

Just as the Internet provides a cloak of anonymity to sexual
predators and would-be terrorists, it does the same for otherwise normal folks
who permit their hatred and prejudices to run amok in a way they would never
permit a normal human discourse. As an example, consider a posting by an
apparently educated individual who concludes that Oppenheimer "hates the
USA as most Latinos do." I clicked "reply" to give this person a
spanking but then I clicked “cancel”: what's the point?  Would this man or woman ever dare say anything
that profoundly stupid among his/her friends, colleagues, or relatives?  Probably not.  But sitting at home on the computer, immersed
in personal problems and the pressures of life and unfettered by basic things
such as common sense, intellect, and sensitivity, an otherwise decent person slinks
back into the primordial mud of those most base human qualities, releasing that
vile prejudice which can only ferment in the dankest corners of the most
damaged heart.  As I think about that, my
anger turns to pity right away.

As an immigrant who's been in these United States for 44
years now, and both sensitive to the impact of this type of legislation on
undocumented migrants as well as aware of the reasons behind Arizona's drastic
measures, I understand both sides. Here in Miami, our public health care
infrastructure is in shambles; a significant reason has to do with the fact
that our local governments resemble more Third World fiascoes than sound
American governance; at least so it would appear. But another reason has to do
with the continued failure of the federal government to address the economic
repercussions of illegal immigration on local communities.

When my younger son Danny was born at Miami's Baptist
Hospital nearly two decades ago, I was somewhat shocked to learn that the
majority of new mothers enjoying Baptist hospital’s renowned maternal ward were
uninsured, undocumented foreign women. Essentially, we were told, by waiting in
the parking lot of the emergency room until the baby's head was crowning, the
immediacy of the birth constituted an "emergency”, and the hospital was
required to admit the mother for the duration of the birth and well baby care.
Naturally, because most of these women had little prenatal intervention, the
percentage of cesarean births and postpartum problems was statistically higher
than among the general population.  As I
understand things, nothing has changed 20 years later, and hospitals are forced
to write of millions of dollars of losses as a result…losses borne, ultimately,
by U.S. taxpayers.  The fact that yours
truly was uninsured and paid for Danny's birth by borrowing against a Hyundai
Sonata, all of this information brought out some decidedly negative, less than
pro-immigrant conclusions.   (I would appreciate it if you refrained from
telling Danny about his Korean coupe origins, it could get tricky…J)

Arizona maintains that it is only doing what it has to do
for its own protection and survival, given that the federal government remains
unable to address the impact of a failed national immigration policy upon those
communities in which the majority of unlawful aliens reside and, consequently,
establish financial burdens. Being angry with Arizona for the heartless aspects
of some of the specific laws enacted, but be angrier with the two political
parties in Washington which have both consistently failed to deliver the comprehensive
immigration reform which has been needed for decades.