As Usual, We’re Left Holding the Bag

I’m cleaning out my browser tabs and had noted an outrage piece from Tuesday’s Times that has a solution no one seems to have proposed. Entitled “Nowhere to Go, Patients Linger in Hospitals, at a High Cost,” it features an illegal alien who’s been living free in medical facilities for the past five years:

Five years ago, Yu Kang Fu, 58, who lived in Flushing, Queens, and was a cook at a Chinese restaurant in New Jersey, was dropped off by his boss at New York Downtown Hospital, a private institution in Manhattan, complaining of a severe headache. Mr. Yu was admitted to the intensive-care unit with a stroke.

Within days, he was well enough for hospital personnel to begin planning for his release, but as an illegal immigrant (he had overstayed a work visa a decade ago), he was ineligible for health benefits. And no nursing home or rehabilitation center would take him. Neither would his son in China nor the Chinese government, although the hospital volunteered to fly him there at its expense.

This kind of thing happens a lot, and this last sentence suggests the solution. The Chinese government is one of many around the world that either flat out refuses to take back its illegal aliens from the U.S. or slow-walks the paperwork and delays as much as possible. They are, of course, free to do so. But we are free to respond, after suitable warnings, by suspending the issuance of visas to anyone from that country. Or we could even send a graduated message, by suspending student visas first, then, if there’s no progress, suspending tourist visas, and so on. It would, after all, be irresponsible to continue admitting people who, if they overstay or commit crimes, we won’t be able to send back. You’d be surprised how quickly those governments would change their tune if we did that.

But guess what? The State Department just keeps issuing visas to countries like this, apparently in the belief that keeping foreign governments happy is more important than the problems of those rubes back in America-land. As unpopular as they might be with many conservatives, I have a lot of respect for the State Department officers in the field; but this is a policy matter to be decided in Washington, and I’m afraid that the people directing our foreign policy, regardless of the administration, just don’t see the American people as their customers, the defense of whose interests is the only reason to have a foreign policy.

Mark Krikorian — Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.