[Congressional Record: June 26, 2001 (Extensions)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN AMERICA DENIED VITAL MEDICAL AND FOOD BENEFITS
BECAUSE OF IMMIGRATION STATUS
HON. SOLOMON P. ORTIZ
in the house of representatives
Monday, June 25, 2001
Mr. ORTIZ. Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague from Texas for
organizing this Special Order to bring the attention of the House of
Representatives to the state of health care--or lack thereof--along the
Southwest Border of the United States.
I represent a South Texas district that abuts the international
border with Mexico. This part of the country is unique in so many ways,
including the health needs and rampant poverty. Currently, the greatest
health need in my district is the need for a comprehensive response to
the rampant spread of tuberculosis in South Texas and elsewhere along
the Southwest Border.
Just today, the Centers for Disease Control announced that the rate
of tuberculosis cases in Brownsville, Texas, is nearly five times the
At least one doctor in the South Texas area has told me that there is
a particularly frightening multiple-drug resistant form of tuberculosis
that antibiotics just won't kill. I am told that this is spreading fast
and is a nightmare for public health officials. It's an enormous
problem. Cross-border dwellers, according to the medial community, are
not good about following up on medical care and often do not finish
drug therapies such as antibiotics. If you only take a little bit of
antibiotics, it only takes care of a little bit of the problem and
leaves the tuberculosis strong enough to come back again another day.
I supported a resolution in the House that recognizes the importance
of substantially increasing United States investment in international
tuberculosis control in the Fiscal year 2002 foreign aid budget, which
is what it will take to deal with the problem. This resolution also
recognizes the importance of supporting and expanding domestic efforts
to eliminate tuberculosis in the United States and calls on local,
national and world leaders, including the President, to commit to
putting an end to the worldwide tuberculosis epidemic.
But as we all know, resolutions have no affect of law; they are
merely words on paper on which all of us can agree. But the most
fundamental job of Congress is to determine spending priorities, and we
will not move forward on finding solutions to this problem without the
full attention of Congress and other public policymakers.
Our migration patterns, be they associated with economic
circumstances, immigration between countries or just travel between
countries, have made this challenge more significant. Today it is only
tuberculosis, but that may not be the case tomorrow. This portends a
real crisis for health care along the border if other simple or chronic
diseases become resistant to medicine we have used so far to eradicate
Another unique problem to the border and South Texas is the issue of
safe water to drink. Often the people who are low-income and who live
in the colonias, the unincorporated neighborhoods that have sprung up
around municipalities, have no running water to drink. Generally, they
will drink unsafe, unhealthy water and they get sick from it. These are
the people least likely to have any kind of health insurance and are
usually not even aware of programs like Medicaid that provide the most
basic help for them.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay special tribute to two great women
who have gone to great lengths to ensure that the patients who need
medications for tuberculosis get them: Dr. Elena Marin of Su Clinica
Familiar and Paula Gomez, the Executive Director of the Brownsville
Community Health Center. They have been an excellent source of
information to me and other Members of Congress who share an interest
in matters relating to health care, and I am enormously grateful to
them for their service to South Texas and the nation.
I join my colleague Ciro Rodriguez in support of the ``Healthy
Solutions for America's Hardworking Families'' agenda. No agenda can
fix everything, but it takes steps to address some of the most
egregious gaps in our nation's effort to help new immigrants and those
who have lived here for a while along the U.S.-Mexico border.
I thank my colleague from Texas, the Chairman of the Congressional
Hispanic Caucus Task Force on Health, for his diligence in bringing
these matters before the House of Representatives.
Share this page
Bookmark this page
The leading immigration law publisher - over 50000 pages of free information!
© Copyright 1995- American Immigration LLC, ILW.COM