Friday, August 1, 2008

Representative Hutchinson Breaks Ranks

If you were expecting State Representative Donna Hutchinson (R-Bella Vista) to be among the racists and haters, you will be disappointed, as will the fear-mongers babbling about hit squad rings in our midst or complaining that Northwest Arkansas looks like Mexico and might have counted on her to join their cacaphonic choir.

In a thoughtful, reasonable, and well-written letter to
The Morning News, Hutchinson puts things in perspective. "When I hear folks speak in degrading terms about those coming here to get a better life for themselves and their families - even coming illegally - I want to remind them that many of us can trace our ancestors back to someone who settled on Indian Territory without permission from the owners," she wrote as a card carrying member of the Blackfoot Indian Nation. "We shouldn't consider ourselves in anyway superior to those crossing our borders now. We all want a better life for ourselves and our children."

Representative Hutchinson does point out a downside to illegal immigration, which is the possibility that these visitors might have tuberculosis that could lead to a pandemic for which our private Medical-Insurance Complex is not prepared to handle. "I am not a racist, full of hate, or a lousy Christian when I ask those crossing our borders to please guarantee they aren't bringing a highly contagious and deadly disease to our nation," she explains convincingly, unlike those who spread the lie about a leprosy epidemic in Springdale.

Immigrants who entered through Ellis Island in previous centuries were given health inspections before being admitted, but not so the current wave that skips the legal formalities. Since everyone knows that the Bush administration has wasted our tax money and still failed to protect the borders, Hutchinson must have in mind something more realistic, screening and treating those who are already in our community without a current health certificate or a valid visa. It would be an effective use of state and local resources to actually protect against a TB outbreak and other public health risks, a much better public safety strategy than paying state and local law enforcement officers to pretend to be the Border Patrol.

We endorse Representative Hutchinson's implicit solution to avoiding a pandemic. Open up the Public Health Clinics for free screening of TB and other infectious diseases, and mobilize the full resources of the Arkansas Department of Health, no questions asked, except medical and health history. Not about insurance coverage. Not about immigration status. It is a practical plan that could succeed, unless the local racists and ambitious politicians try to deny all public services to undocumented immigrants.

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