Faith Leaders Concerned about Immigrant Patient Bill

A bill requiring doctors to report illegal immigrant patients has caused concern, not just in the medical community, but among Christians as well.

The Rev. Canon Carmen B. Guerrero, diocesan canon for peace and justice of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, expressed her concerns about the SB 1405 bill to The Christian Post.

"I see the result of these unfair laws imposed on Christian families who only want a better life for their children," she said.

Guerrero, who is a third-generation Mexican-American, said that this kind of imposition often leads immigrants to anger.

"When governments impose these unfair laws, they do so out of fear – a fear rooted in hatred and anger toward those who are perceived to be threats," she explained.

"Families with whom I work with are people of faith and have placed every aspect of their lives in the hands of God in comparison to those whom have their hopes on the power of destruction."

Last year, Guerrero joined ecumenical leaders nationwide to protest against Arizona SB 1070, which allows law enforcement officers to detain, without warrant, suspected illegal immigrants.

The more recent SB 1405 bill requires health care professionals to identify and report illegal immigrants to the federal immigration office.

However, many believe that the threat of deportation would only discourage individuals from seeking medical attention that would otherwise save lives. Other opponents say that the bill would have drastic effects on hospital efficiency.

"You are now turning medical professionals into full-time INS (Immigration & Naturalization Service) agents," said Arizona Sen. Steve Gallardo, speaking at a news conference Monday. "Doctors that should be working to help treat ill patients are now turning into ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents."

Advocates argue that the bill is instrumental in the fight against illegal immigration, which cost hospitals tens of millions in lost revenue due to illegal immigrants being treated in emergency rooms.

Though the state legislature threw out the bill on Monday, Guerrero feels that lawmakers should in the future make decisions based on compassion for the individual, regardless of immigration status.

"I believe that laws that do not let children, who are born in the United States, to be citizens are against the Gospel," she said in reference to the proposed Arizona bill that would deny automatic citizenship to children of illegal immigrants.

"The other law that prevents a person from seeking medical help in any hospital is cruel, and I will not believe that God is not taking these injustices into account."

Christian Post correspondent Wesley Ernst contributed to this article.

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