Hopping The Border

I cultivate a keen interest in politics in spite of myself.  Every election cycle I look on with – I’ll admit – bated breath.  My horse this time is Obama.   Last time it was McCain.

So I’ve been a little surprised at myself when it comes to the immigration debate.  I know conservatives are REALLY into this one, but I just never cared about it.  Who cares?!  My ancestors probably hopped a fence (or Ocean, as it were) to get here, and they probably didn’t meet with much of a warm reception when they arrived either.  So let ’em come, I figured.  They’ve got as much right to this place as me.

fence1.jpgToday, my lackadaisical opinion on the matter was surely challenged, if not changed.  I was called to see a patient in antepartum early this morning.  She was 26 weeks along in her pregnancy with cramping and reports of bleeding.  I was told to hurry there because she had 4 kids in the room who all needed to get to school and she needed to know if she was staying in the hospital or going home.

It turns out that this woman speaks only Spanish.  She doesn’t have 4 kids, she has 7.  She lives in a shelter.  So do some of the kids.  Others are in foster care.  She is pregnant again, with her 8th.  While seeing her, we notice a significant deceleration of the baby’s heartbeat.  The baby recovers, but it could be an ominous sign so we decide to keep her for another 2 hours to see if there are more problems.  There is also concern that although she has stopped bleeding, she will start again.  So we order an ultrasound for fetal viability and placenta placement.  We add a biophysical profile to that – another test.

Antepartum is basically a set of exam rooms that function like an ER for pregnant patients.  The cost of running an antepartum unit is eye-poppingly expensive, especially with all the tests we ordered.  Also, to make sure our communication with this patient was perfect, we made sure an in-the-flesh translator was in the room with her.  Since we decided to keep the patient for an additional two hours, we made sure the translator also stayed with her.  The cost for this whole thing was probably in the range of $4000-$8000.  Maybe more.

This woman has no insurance of any kind.  Not even state funds for her kids.  This is because she is here “illegally” and has no documentation to allow her to get support for her kids.  Furthermore, she refuses birth control, and has lots of children.  She effectively has state employees working just for her to get her kids shuttled off to public school, which is also not paid for or contributed to in any way by her.

This patient had no further decelerations and was sent home.  But if she had bled significantly again, she probably would have needed to deliver the baby.  The standard of medical care in this case is to ship her by helicopter to a higher-level hospital with a neonatal ICU where the odds of her 26 week baby surviving are better.  The level of care required to save a baby that age is tremendous.  The cost would rival my medical school debt.

Last week, more school levies were proposed for our neighborhood.  I want to support them, but property tax in this area is already a heavy burden.  Trying to support 4 kids on a resident’s salary, paying taxes even on the loan repayment grants I get because I’ve sold my soul to the Army Reserve, I found it hard not to be resentful toward this woman.  I’m happy to say that I didn’t really come to this conclusion until after she had left and so I think I treated her with equality and good medical judgment.  But after she left, and I thought about how much she is taking from this system that really does survive on actual dollars from real humans like me, I was angry.  My daughter has been asking me to teach her to ride her bike now all week long.  This is because her two other friends just got bikes and are starting to ride with their Dads.  I leave my house in the dark in the morning, and come trudging home still in the dark, usually late for dinner.  I missed it altogether tonight.  Patiently, my sweet little girl hasn’t continued to ask me about bike-riding lessons.  She knows it’s hopeless.  Her dad works from dark ’till dark and if she wants to learn how to ride a damn bike like her friends, it’s up to her.

I work this hard because I – yes – generally like my job.  But it’s also true that I work this hard because to really build a community of mutual benefit is expensive.  Nobody can freeload.  The whole thing falls apart if everybody doesn’t do their part.  This is how the kibbutzim failed in Israel.  Freeloaders – the achille’s heel of communism.

fence2.jpgSo, I know, I’m complaining instead of proposing a solution.  Do we build a HUGE fence?  Seems inhumane, somehow.  Do we brand undocumented immigrants, give them some sort of societal scarlet letter?  Do we round them up and deport them?  I want to be fair to everyone who needs help.  But I want to be fair to me too.

I guess I don’t know the answer.  I do know that staying home and playing with my kids, teaching them to ride bikes and read and do math while other people provide food, housing, transportation, cable T.V. (high-def, if possible, please), education and clothes is in many ways an enviable life.  It is the life of a king.  But to provide this to thousands of people pouring into this country every day is impossible.  It is certainly demoralizing to me.

4 thoughts on “Hopping The Border

  1. sweetiegirlz

    First I do want to congratulate you for working so hard and being a great parent.

    It’s okay to have the now changed opinion that you do of illegal immigration because you have experienced for yourself in the flesh, how it impacts this country, and closer to home–you and your family.

    It’s okay. You should not in the least feel bad about having this opinion changed. But a lot of people who feel very strongly about just letting everyone come to the U.S. regardless if they have money or not to support the family, will tell you that your opinion is racist, inflammatory, or otherwise, when clearly it is a very SANE rational point of view.

    For me, it was living in California for 2 years, very close to all the border commotion of LOTS of illegal immigrants. The difference between these guys and your ancestors or mine coming to america, is that, our ancestors were LEGAL immigrants, and they broke no such laws coming here.

    I know you wrote: “I guess I don’t know the answer” as to what to do about the problems the U.S. faces to supporting 12 million people who came here unlawfully, but trust me, your legislators and other activists do, and it is possible to be a loving, and kind responsible citizen who loves people and still be against illegal immigration.

    Sorry for the long comment: i guess what I wanted to say is, I’m feeling for the mother, but I’m feeling you more.


  2. womantowomancbe

    Thanks for writing this post, and I agree with the other person who commented.

    My personal take on this issue is: secure the border, then as these people who are here illegally come to our attention (such as when they break a law), send them back.

    We can love people and still be against illegal immigration. You’re paying your taxes and following the law–why shouldn’t they? If they can plead poverty as their excuse for coming here illegally, then why can’t I go rob a bank and then plead poverty as my reason for doing it? In essence, they are stealing your money and my money when they use services and don’t pay for them. Legal thievery from illegal aliens.

    If the amnesty advocates would be truly compassionate and charitable, they would invite these illegal immigrants into their own homes and feed and clothe them and educate their children all themselves. It’s easy to be “compassionate” and “charitable” with other people’s money.

    This woman needed care, and I’m not sorry it was given, but enough is enough.


  3. mrcfunds

    Take Back Our Country Song


    Can you please place a link on your website / or blog; to this Take Back Our Country Song it’s a patriotic song that is very inspiring, and truthful. I wrote this song after being fed up with what I see happening in my neighborhood and to our country daily on the news.

    I am just an ordinary citizen that went away to serve at age 19. And I am sick and tired of the lies and chaos our ELECTED SELLOUT OFFICIALS has put this country into. So I wanted to do my part, as a soldier of the USANG, I wrote this song and put it on this video.

    My state Louisiana was hit hard by hurricane Katrina and hundreds of illegal aliens moved into our community took away jobs that we Americans were ready to do, and now crime has gone thru the roof. I am sick and tired of these people in my neighborhood and hanging out on our street corners. WE MUST DO SOMETHING TO PUT A STOP TO THIS!

    Please check out my video Take Back Our Country Song on YouTube.com here’s the link. And FORWARD it to everyone on your email list. This is my way of fighting back and giving back to my country.

    Please, I served my country in the US Army National Guards, and I hate what’s happening to our country. We must do all we can to Take Her Back!

    Thank you,
    Richie Collins

    Take Back Our Country


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