By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tSix Hispanic bishops visited Congress today to press an agenda featuring health care, immigration reform, education, housing, and anti-poverty efforts. Most immediately, the bishops argued that any health care reform package should offer coverage for immigrants, including the nation’s estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants.
t“Any reasonable reform has to include the immigrant community, including some kind of safety net for undocumented immigrants,” said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif.
“If we leave out that segment of society, it will not only affect them but it will prejudice the health of American society in general,” Soto said, insisting that it would be “foolish and hard-hearted” to exclude immigrants from the health care system.
Soto said the bishops have recently picked up “conversations” about moves in Congress to deny undocumented immigrants the ability to pay out-of-pocket for their own health care, a possibility Soto described as “more a matter of a runaway anti-immigrant rhetoric rather than common sense approach to health care.”