A new en­ti­tle­ment for il­le­gals

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Un­sat­is­fied with thwart­ing a Repub­li­can ef­fort to au­tho­rize $3 bil­lion for a border fence, con­gres­sional Democrats are try­ing to en­hance the in­cen­tive for il­le­gal aliens to en­ter the United States by re­mov­ing the cit­i­zen­ship re­quire­ment from the pop­u­lar State Chil­dren’s Health In­sur­ance Pro­gram (SCHIP). The Repub­li­can Congress in 1996 passed leg­is­la­tion block­ing peo­ple who are in the coun­try il­le­gally from claim­ing ben­e­fits from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, and when SCHIP was cre­ated in 1997, states were re­quired to ver­ify cit­i­zen­ship. But Democrats want to take that sen­si­ble re­quire­ment for Med­i­caid and SCHIP and leave it to the dis­cre­tion of each state.

This re­flects the Democrats’ ea­ger­ness to of­fer free ser­vices to il­le­gals at tax­payer ex­pense, un­der­min­ing the prin­ci­ples of both im­mi­gra­tion law and good gov­er­nance. And it is also a step Democrats want to take to­ward ex­pand­ing SCHIP, like their plan to ex­pand its cov­er­age to in­clude chil­dren from mid­dle-in­come fam­i­lies that make up to $83,000 per year — a plan en­com­pass­ing more than 70 per­cent of Amer­i­can chil­dren. (When SCHIP first came into be­ing it was only for fam­i­lies with in- comes up to dou­ble the poverty level, or $40,000 for a fam­ily of four.) Ex­pand­ing the pro­gram will cost $50 bil­lion over five years; ex­pand­ing it by giv­ing states the op­tion to not en­force the cit­i­zen­ship re­quire­ment pushes the price tag up even higher — al­though just how much would de­pend on how many states de­cide to in­clude il­le­gals in the pro­gram.

This doesn’t come as much of a sur­prise, of course, from the per­spec­tive of ei­ther im­mi­gra­tion or health-care pol­icy. Re­call that SCHIP was born out of a failed at­tempt at gov­ern­ment-run uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age. In­deed, the Demo­cratic ex­pan­sion of SCHIP will ac­tu­ally al­low chil­dren who cur­rently have private health in­sur­ance to switch to the fed­er­ally sub­si­dized pro­gram, sad­dling tax­pay­ers with yet an­other en­ti­tle­ment bur­den. In the wake of the de­feat of the im­mi­gra­tion amnesty bill in June, open-borders ad­vo­cates are at­tempt­ing to im­ple­ment their agenda us­ing a piece­meal approach. (Two weeks ago, for ex­am­ple, Democrats were look­ing for sup­port for an agri­cul­ture-worker bill that in­cluded a path to cit­i­zen­ship for work­ers in the coun­try il­le­gally.) They should not be per­mit­ted to get away with us­ing SCHIP to fun­nel more tax­payer as­sis­tance to il­le­gals.

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