What the Arizona immigration law means for preemies

Day 1 NICU

Day 1 NICU

My boys were born in Denver, and we were so lucky to have a host of amazing home services provides by an organization called Denver Options. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and even massage therapy in our living room, so not only did my boys get needed care but I did not have to expose them to the germs hidden in medical offices just waiting for vulnerable airways.Without these services I have no doubt my boys would not be where they are today.

The sad thing was Denver Options didn’t have enough clients. I know what you are thinking. How can that be? Prematurity affects more than 12% of births! Dear God, they should have be swamped. We even went on TV to help raise awareness.

One of the main reasons people did not take the hand that was offered was fear. Many premature babies are born to immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, because the poor and uninsured are statistically more likely to have a premature baby. The services were available in Spanish, but language was not the barrier, it was fear of authorities and fear of deportation. What will another law, clearly designed to single out non-whites do? Create yet another barrier and more fear.

As an immigrant who paid a lot of money to go through the correct channels and enter this country legally, I have a complex view of immigration. For example, if there is amnesty, can I get a refund on all the money I paid to follow the law?

However, immigration battles should not extend into health care. A baby born in this country is an American and entitled to the same services as every other American, regardless of their skin color or where their parents were born. The Arizona law will only make immigrant parents, both those here legally and those who have chosen another route, less likely to sign up for available services, even though a social security number and proof of citizenship are not required.

I am heart broken thinking fewer premature babies will get the care they so desperately need. Immigration issues need to be solved, but this is not the answer. Every baby born in America deserves the same care, otherwise, we should retire the Statue of Liberty.

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