WASHINGTON, DC – May 26, 2011 — Earlier this year, the governor of Washington state proposed to cut 26,000 illegal immigrant children enrolled in that state’s Apple Health for Kids program. Under a compromise reached by the state legislators, illegal immigrant children will be permitted to remain in the program however premiums for low-income families in the program will increase.
“About 725,000 total children — citizens, residents and illegal immigrants — are covered, according to the Department of Social and Health Services.
Under the approved proposal, families with illegal immigrant children and incomes above 200 percent of the federal poverty line will pay higher premiums. For example, a family of three that makes more than $37,000 a year would pay more, according to the Children’s Alliance.
The measure raises the monthly premiums for those families from between $20 and $30 to between $80 and $90. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate on Wednesday.
Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, said that by maintaining the program, the state protects the “most vulnerable.”
Those who supported the governor’s proposal say that in times of budget shortfalls, the government cannot afford to pay for children who are undocumented.
I understand the governor’s interest in being fiscally responsible and wanting to deal with extraneous expenditures especially when they would go to people who are not in the country legally, but it seemed wholly unfair and cruel to the innocent children who did not ask to be brought to America in the first place.
Besides immigrants, families in communities of color in Washington state were disproportionately impacted by the budget cuts, according to a report released by Washington CAN!
It gets back to an earlier post I had written about the concept of family values among conservatives.
One conservative definition of a family is the nuclear family with a man and wife and their biological children.
It seemingly excludes all forms of variations of family including mixed, blended, step, adopted, grandparent-run, single-parent families, and those some call deviant when talking about same-sex families. I say so because many strict social and fiscal conservatives oppose government programs and measure that support these latter forms of family.
Again, I grapple with how one can call themselves an advocate for “family” but be willing to have children succumb to illnesses that could be spread to other citizens, and possibly develop into debilitated conditions when untreated or lead to their death.
On the federal level, the immigration legislation called the DREAM Act would relieve undocumented children from the crimes of their parents who brought or kept them in America illegally.
The measure, which has been floating in Congress for nearly a year now, would permit undocumented children, including the roughly 65,000 that graduate high school in the United States each year, to earn a path to citizenship through college or military service.
The idea behind it was to permit children who were not asked to be brought here, but now know no other life than here in America, have little ties to their native land and are culturally American to be given legal status.
Congressional Republicans say they will not entertain the idea of this bill until the Mexican-US border is more secure.
According to research, about 76 percent of all illegal immigrants are Hispanics, with Mexicans being the largest group at 7 million.
In reality though, talk about the “border” can also be perceived as code for talking about the truth.
Permitting the DREAM ACT to pass would mean the GOP would have to share that “victory” in the minds of Latino voters with President Barack Obama and the Democrats. Further, because those kids benefitting from the DREAM ACT would inevitably be permitted to file for their parents and other relatives, the Democrats would be insured with a tremendous voting base for years to come, diluting Republican political influence.
It would be great if there could be a compromise reached in the DREAM ACT case similar to how the Washington state lawmakers were able to do.
A radical, but plausible solution perhaps would be to limit the DREAM ACT beneficiaries’ sponsorship of family members to those residing in their native land. Such a proposal would encourage many undocumented immigrants to return home voluntarily in hopes of returning with proper status legally. It could reduce the number of undocumented people in America and increase legal immigration. Yes, such an idea would break families in the short run, but sometimes, the only way to move forward is through compromise.
Ideally, protecting children, families and the family unit would be something promoted by all lawmakers, but with the option of increased tax-cuts off the table, and the political fear of legalizing the undocumented, that is not always the case.
In these heated political times, getting a fraction of what you want is better than nothing at all. Now if only our legislatures would take that approach when it comes to agreeing on a federal budget.
Read more Politics of Raising Children in The Communities at the Washington Times. Follow Jeneba Ghatt at @JenebaSpeaks. Her work can also be read at JenebaSpeaks and Politic365. She also co-hosts a Blog Talk Radio show called Right of Black which tackles current events and politics from a perspective not often seen in the mainstream media.
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