Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Religious leaders seek healthcare for illegal immigrants


Calling access to healthcare a moral and spiritual imperative, Los Angeles faith leaders held a religious service and launched a phone bank Friday to urge congressional leaders to include illegal immigrants in any healthcare reform plan.

The question of whether illegal immigrants should have access to a government-sponsored health insurance marketplace has provoked heated debate and criticism of President Obama’s proposals from both the left and right. Obama’s position that his plans do not include illegal immigrants has been attacked as dishonest by some conservatives and as a betrayal by some liberals.

 “If we were politicians, this would be definitely political suicide to come out for healthcare reform for those who are undocumented,” said Father Roland Lozano, pastor of Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, known as La Placita, near Olvera Street. “But we’re doing it because we believe ... it’s what God wants us to do.”

Father Richard Estrada, who heads an immigrant services organization known as Jovenes Inc., said inclusion of all immigrants was consistent with biblical teachings that all people are children of God who must care for society’s most vulnerable.

And the Rev. Will Wauters, vicar of the Church of the Epiphany, an Episcopal church in Lincoln Heights, said inclusion of all immigrants would benefit the proposed health insurance marketplace by expanding it with those who numerous studies have shown are younger and healthier than native-born Americans.

According to a July 2009 study in the American Journal of Public Health, even immigrants with health insurance use less medical care than U.S.-born citizens and are less likely to suffer from arthritis, diabetes, coronary heart disease and other chronic health conditions.

The Roman Catholic Church, the nation’s largest religious denomination with 67 million members, considers healthcare a basic human right, a position the church has articulated since 1963, when it was included in a papal encyclical by Pope John XXIII. As a result, the church believes that illegal immigrants should be included in any healthcare reform plan, according to Kathy Saile, director of domestic social development with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“If healthcare is a basic right, you can’t start cutting people out,” she said.

But some religious conservatives disagree. Richard Land, who heads the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention, said biblical exhortations to care for the poor apply to people of faith, not to governments, and should inspire private charitable efforts but not taxpayer-funded plans for illegal immigrants.

“It’s noble and commendable to be charitable with your own money, but it’s something different to be charitable with other people’s money,” he said.

At La Placita on Friday, more than 150 worshipers attended a Mass of “reconciliation and hope” for an all-inclusive healthcare reform plan. Later, parishioners were asked to call their elected officials to ask that all immigrants be granted access to health insurance.

For Josephina Dedoy, a 58-year-old Mexico native and legal U.S. resident, the debate is intensely personal. She and her husband, a naturalized U.S. citizen, have a daughter who has epilepsy and is undocumented, having been born in Mexico before her parents earned legal status.

Dedoy said the family had insurance coverage until recently, when her husband was laid off after 17 years as a painter and designer. The family looked into private health plans but found them unaffordable at nearly $1,000 a month.

Now, Dedoy said, she is anxious over how they will pay for their daughter’s medical care. But as Obama supporters, Dedoy said, she believes the president will support people like them.

“We’re waiting for the mercy of the government for those in need like us,” she said.

-- Teresa Watanabe

Photo: A woman attends noon Mass at Our Lady Queen of Angels church in Los Angeles, where priests held a news conference Friday to demand a voice for immigrants in the current debate over healthcare reform. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (64)

Instead of trying to get free health care, these leaders should be explaining to the illegal immigrants that coming to this country illegally, is a crime and they should go back to their home countries.

I can sympathized with some of the concerns but how are we going to cover those on the way and future border sneakers? The whole world will want to buy our insurance and get benefits for expensive medical not found in their country. All they need to do is fly here as tourist and becomes illegal and get covered. Can we really afford the next wave of tens of millions seeking medical here?

Let's Be Fair...and keep the taxpayers out of this. Instead the religious leaders who want this should ask only their own congregations to foot the bill. And just how much are their parent-organizations willing to shell-out? Maybe their hierarchies would be willing to take a "pay-cut?" Or why not give away some church-owned land too? Ah, matters of the fisc!

Oh!my did we became a Christian nation? Really!

The silent subtext here is that many undocumented people in California are currently receiving excellent government funded health care.

I agree they should get healthcare. Let them go back where they came from to get it.

That "horrible" proposition 187 was initiated years ago by a Orange County municipal employee who saw her quadriplegic American citizen friend lose welfare due to funding cuts. Yet there was still funding out there to help illegal immigrants. What's wrong with that picture? There is only a finite amount of money available to go around. Emergency services should be provided to anyone, citizen or not. But people who are here illegally shouldn't be here.

Why dont these religiuos leaders complain to Mexico. A country with vast land and natural resources but rife with corruption and culture that doesnt promote education. I think its immoral and unethical they wont touch those issues.

Do the Southern Baptists believe in Jesus? The statements in this article would make one think they don't.

This is ridiculous!! If the Catholic Church is so concerned about illegal immigrants health care. Why don't they allow the illegals access to their hospital and health care systems for free? Allow the children to attend their schools for free? Last time I checked the Catholic school systems and hospitals were pretty expensive. I don't see them calling out the Mexican government over it's health care issues. The Roman Catholic Church is not ready to put their money where their mouth is on this issue. They should stop attacking our immigration system and policy. Last time I looked one of the ten commandments was thou shall not covet thy neighbors goods. Well I believe that applies to American jobs, goods,services etc.

If money is the root of all evil, why do churches and preachers always want more of it?

>>Religious leaders seek healthcare for illegal immigrants

Religioius leaders needs to buy them one-way tickets to mexico!

We should tax the churches in order to help pay for this new entitlement program.


Great idea, Padre!

Let's tax Church assets & revenue to fund your concept.

The former or aspiring US Middle Class is simply not equipped to feed, house, educate & medicate unlimited populations (supported by the Vatican) from the entire Western Hemisphere, outside the procedures of formal foreign policy procedures.

Sell a few Vatican assets. Tax the revenue of the weekly donations & tithes. Liquidate Taj Mahoney & build, equip, and staff a Church system of clinics & acute and long term hospitals.

After all, it wasn't that long ago, that the good nuns in Orange County even refused to negotiate with the union over a living wage for hospital workers,

What sacrocantified hypocrisy!

Every illegal alien has access to the county health care system.

Our Government, past & present, Republican & Democrat, have allowed the invasion of 20 to 30 million criminals and uneducated peons which is the largest invasion of any Nation, at any time, by any means & in direct violation of Article IV, Section IV of our Constitution.

This refusal to abide by our Constitution or enforce our Immigration Laws should be classified as Treason of the most foul kind, & as grounds for impeachment & trials for Treason!

Not only have they allowed the invasion, they force American tax payers to pay Billions on Billions of dollars to provide Welfare, Prison cells, Educate the invaders numerous children, and free medical care, at the same time the invading horde break numerous laws and massive document fraud, & are destroying our schools, hospitals, communities, culture and standard of living while Robbing, Raping, Killing & Assaulting American Citizens WAKE UP PEOPLE!

Mexico's second highest income is from illegals sending money home! google it! do you understand how really HUGE that is?? how many of them MUST be here illegally to make that happen?? 12 million? HA! more like 40 million?? we are being invaded, without one shot being fired! does anybody have a CLUE?? whos job it is to protect and defend the United States?? to ABIDE by the CONSTITUTION???? what does it mean? to break the law? why all the infighting? they broke the LAW! period! google "operation w*tback" Eisenhower had this very same problem. he quietly and EFFECTIVLY took care of it! why can we not do the same??? they walked, rode, swam over here. they can do the same going home taking their anchor babies with them! and then, if they want. they can GET IN LINE. like all the rest of the "LAW ABIDING " people that do it the RIGHT WAY!!!

Let these leaders pay for the repatriation of illegal aliens and then use church funds to pay the health care of these folks when they are back home.

No, no, no and no. What is wrong is breaking the laws we live by when entering the country illegally. If that law doesn't apply, can we pick and choose the other ones we don't want to follow? This is a nation based on laws and to judge by any other criteria is wrong.

". . . biblical exhortations to care for the poor apply to people of faith, not to governments, and should inspire private charitable efforts but not taxpayer-funded plans for illegal immigrants."

Mr. Land is exactly right in his comment above. Although, this should apply to everyone, not just illegal immigrants. The problem with illegal immigrants is that so many of them make the choice to send money back to their "home" countries while relying on the American taxpayer for things like food stamps, housing assistance and health care.

If the Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles is so concerned about these issues, why didn't they double down on charitable works instead of building that monument to money downtown? How did they decide that the "Rog Mahal" was what God wanted them to do instead?

And, as far as allocation of taxpayer funds, how far would the over $1 billion a year spent on illegals entitlement benefits go towards restoring our crumbling infrastructure, including things like the replacement of 90-year-old water mains that are now failing on a daily basis?

All citizens and legal immigrants should be entitled; ILLEGAL immigrants should get nothing free since we should be billing their native countries (or reducing our largesse to them to compensate for our costs). Ain't that fair?

As for the mostly Christian operations, did Christ erect any churches or, worse, cathedrals? Did he not use existing structures and open fields and town centers? Perhaps the Christians could emulate Christ and rather use the bucks for the needy.

Hey churches .... here is an idea.

Why don't you go ahead and fund this health care.

The catholic church has plenty of money to aid this pursuit.

First let me state:
Media NEEDS to clean up ITS discription of whom they are writting about.

Immigrants are those in the process of getting status

Illegals are just that: Criminals from other countries, those enterring the country without being a process.

To this end if the the religious leaders WANT health care
for illegals then let the religious leaders pay for IT OUT of their own collections - meaning NO GOVERMENT HAND OUT payments.

Immigrants that are in the process, should be discussed

and yes I am in grumpy mood

lets pay for health insurance, schools, their taxes, housing, food stamps for people that are in the country illegally. check out the state of the economy for the usa. people born here are without jobs, health insurance, losing homes, running out of unemployment insurance, and these clerlics want to give more to illegals. lets help our onw first and the illegals go back to their home.

1 2 3 | »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: