Hospital emergency room admitting clerks would become involuntary agents of the Department of Homeland Security under HR 3722, a bill being proposed by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif). The bill to amend the Medicare Prescription Drug Act of 2003 is still pending, according to a spokesperson in the congressman’s office, who declined to answer a reporter’s questions about the bill’s provisions.

“If the alien is illegal, the hospital must ask about the immigrant’s employer and a biometric indicator, meaning a photo or a fingerprint, must be taken,” said Rohrabacher in his Jan. 21 speech introducing the “Undocumented Alien Emergency Medical Assistance Amendments of 2004.”

“The hospital then uploads this information into a database that is now being set up by the Department of Health and Human Services and, of course, the Department of Homeland Security,” the congressman continued.

“Thus the information that we have collected will become available to the Department of Homeland Security and these other government agencies for national security purposes.” The congressman confirmed that the intent is for the information to be used to immediately begin deportation proceedings.

Rohrabacher emphasized that another “very important factor” in this bill is the redefinition of what constitutes a medical “emergency,” with the goal of limiting the emergency care that a hospital is required to give undocumented immigrants who are victims of illness or accidents.

Rohrabacher demanded – and received – support from the Republican leadership to get his bill to the House floor last November as the price for his vote in favor of the administration’s Medicare bill, according to a Knight Ridder/Tribune report carried by HispanicVista.com.

The author can be reached at rwood@pww.org.

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