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FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2007
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Limited care for adult illegals
Local legislator wants restrictions on treatment of illegal immigrants

By M.J. Ellington
mjellington@decaturdaily.com (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — A local legislator who wants health care access for illegal immigrant children said he does not want benefits extended to adult immigrants unless they need emergency care.

Rep. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, said he believes the state's focus should be on passing laws that make Alabama an unattractive destination for illegal immigrants.

"Education and health care issues will handle themselves if they are not here," Hammon said. "We must stop illegals from showing up at our doorstep."

The issue came up Tuesday after Dr. Don Williamson, state health officer, urged the Joint Patriotic Immigration Commission not to propose laws that would discourage people from getting preventive health care.

Hammon and some others want laws requiring people to prove they are in Alabama legally before they receive such services. But Williamson said federal regulations and some U.S. Supreme Court decisions prohibit the state health department from requiring such documentation.

Preventive care need

Williamson also said preventive care might catch problems early and help the state avoid paying more when people later go to hospital emergency rooms with more serious and costly problems. Federal law requires hospitals to at least evaluate patients who come to emergency rooms and to treat those who have serious medical problems, he said.

Hammon said the state needs to pass laws similar to those in some other states restricting immigrant migration into the state. He wants the state to adopt a system that permits only the number of immigrants needed to fill job openings that employers have.

Hammon is against laws that provide most social services for illegal immigrants, including non-emergency health care and prenatal care for pregnant women. But Williamson said such restrictions cause sick and pregnant immigrants to delay or skip care that will lead to spread of some serious contagious diseases and possibly lead to premature births with resulting expensive medical needs.

"Rather than wrapping our arms around them, let's make sure they are not here," Hammon said of people who are in the country illegally.

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