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There are a lot of heartless people. They held a festival on social media after I wrote Monday about how Chicago could do a better job housing refugees shipped here from Texas. I wish I could address the top 25 reactions. One will have to do:
“Multiply all this by hundreds and you have what Texas has put up with for years,” a reader from Murphy, Texas — let’s call him “Murph” — wrote on Facebook. “Sorry, but BS. I’ve had my car struck twice by uninsured motorists with no papers. More than half the patients in the Dallas County public hospital were undocumented. The strain is enormous, on all services and neighborhoods.”
A lot to unpack. First savor “had my car struck twice by uninsured motorists with no papers,” a version of what I call the “an immigrant peed in my alley” argument. And I heard Spanish spoken at a McDonald’s once. We all carry our private crosses.
But let’s try to be sympathetic, the liberal superpower.
Gosh, struck twice?!?! That’s terrible, Murph. All these undocumented immigrants so busy greedily gorging at the public trough they can’t even be bothered to insure their luxury vehicles. What’s wrong with them?
Hmmm … could it be they can’t buy car insurance in Texas? Why sure they can. All they have to do is produce a valid driver’s license. And how do they get that? Easy, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Merely “present proof of lawful presence in the U.S.”
Ooh, kind of a deal-breaker for the undocumented, huh?
Shame Murph doesn’t live in a civilized state, like Illinois, where not only do we show Christian sympathy to the families drop-kicked here, because his governor is awful, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill last June — HB 3882 — allowing undocumented residents to get Illinois driver’s licenses. So they can buy car insurance. Like regular people.
Speaking of regular people, another go-to move of haters is to damn the group they scorn for doing the exact same things that they do themselves. Like getting sick.
The public hospital Murph mentions is Parkland Memorial Hospital — we Yankees remember it as the place were John F. Kennedy was taken after being murdered by a right wing Russia-loving Texas fanatic.
Parkland certainly treats many undocumented residents. You know who else it treats? Many residents from Collin County, where Murph is located. The fourth-richest county in Texas, Collin County does not actually pay the special tax that supports the hospital, even though it guiltlessly packs its poor people off to Parkland for treatment. Here’s how the Dallas Morning News described the situation in 2017:
“Of the out-of-county patients, Collin County residents visit most often. The hospital lost $6 million last year alone on Collin County patients, who visited nearly 6,000 times, according to Parkland data. Meanwhile, Collin County boasts the lowest property tax rate in the state and has cut its rate seven times in the last 10 years.”
Now the source of Murph’s ire becomes clear. A resident of one of the richest counties in Texas, which heavily uses the hospital that it does not in fact fund, griping about undocumented immigrants who also use the hospital. Nobody cries like a bully.
“It is a fairness issue,” the CEO of Parkland explained. “You can crow about having low taxes, but all of your uninsured people can come down to Dallas to get their care.”
Speaking of fairness, living in Cook County as I do, I have to point out that only 2% of hospital care here is given to the indigent. Rich private hospitals like to dump their patients at Stroger — where, guess what, impoverished American citizens without health insurance don’t pay their bills the same way that impoverished undocumented immigrants without health insurance don’t.
Texas, by the way, is the capital of Uninsured America: 18% of Texans lack health coverage. The national average is 8%, and stand-out Illinois boasts 6%.
Most people are insured through their employers. But Texas is a so-called “right-to-work” state, meaning, in reality, a “right-to-work-at-a-job-that-doesn’t-provide-health-insurance-because-there-isn’t-a-union-to-negotiate-it state.”
Times up! That’ll have to do. Murph certainly went on. He described Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s cruel stunt as “sharing the burden.” Texas is actually sharing the benefit of immigration — albeit long term. Chicago knows that a little effort and expense now will pay off down the road. Big time.