How Much Is That Strawberry In The Window?



[Recently by Linda Thom

Marriage Promotion? Try Immigration Demotion!
]

Immigration reform has been blocked
by the fact that Republicans like cheap labor and
Democrats like cheap votes. But just how cheap are
immigrant votes and immigrant labor? 

Answer:  Not very.

On July 26th, Feliciano
Morelos, a 19-year-old

Mixtec
from Oaxaca, Mexico was

sentenced
to 2 months

jail time
in Santa Maria, California.  This
illiterate strawberry- picker, who speaks neither
English nor Spanish, refuses to take his tuberculosis
medication. He has run away from two hospitals.

According to Santa Barbara County
health officials, Mr. Morelos

infected
56 people in the past year and nine still
have

active TB.
  Most of these people are relatives of
Morelos and, therefore, are likely to be

poor
, illiterate and

Mixteco-speakers
, like Mr. Morelos.

Taxpayers of Santa Barbara County
foot the bill for

treatment of the victims
of Mr. Morelos because
under state law, counties must provide health care to
all comers regardless of

ability to pay
and

regardless of immigration status.

According to local news reports (Santa
Barbara News-Press,


“S.M. farmworker in jail for length of TB treatment”

July 27, 2004, Melinda Burns[Pay Archive]), public
health nurses supervise the treatment of the 56 people
Mr. Morelos infected. But be sure that these nurses do
not speak Mixteco. 

So

aides
who speak Mixteco and Spanish and Spanish and
English must accompany the

nurses
.  These treatments cost a bundle. 

Bottom line: In addition to health
costs, jailing Mr. Morelos, his trial, his

interpreters
and his one-year probation will cost
Santa Barbara County

taxpayers
thousands of dollars.

Mr. Morelos may be the extreme in
refusing treatment. But he is one of many immigrants
with

tuberculosis
.  According to the

Center for Disease Control,
in California, over

3,000 cases of active TB were
reported in 2003.
Three quarters of these cases were immigrants.

Peggy Langle, [email
her
]

Santa Barbara County Public Health
Director stated
in the Santa Barbara News-Press,


“There`s no

funding in the federal budget;
there`s no one to get
a grant from.  It`s shocking.  Tuberculosis is such a
growing problem.”

These

medical
and criminal justice expenses should be
counted in the cost of the strawberries Mr. Morelos
picked.

“Cheap labor” is really
mighty expensive.

And, ultimately,

cheap votes
will be even worse.


Linda Thom [email
her
] is a retiree who fled California three years
ago. She formerly worked as an officer for a major bank
and as a budget analyst for the County Administrator of
Santa Barbara.