The Face of Illegal Immigration


Sometimes the name of a single individual becomes associated with a powerful cause.

Such was the case with young Ryan White, whose contraction of AIDS through a transfusion showed the extent to which the disease could impact almost anyone.

Richard Jewel, a guard who actually was a hero at the 1984 Olympics, symbolized the tragedy associated with people who are prematurely judged guilty of crimes they never commit.

Now there's a new name associated with one of the nation's most compelling problems: Jesus Navarro and illegal immigration.

As his story became public last week, the illegal immigration issue showed a side that compels us to think through this problem and solve it once and for all.

For the past 14 years, Navarro worked at a Berkeley steel foundry. There he enjoyed a steady job and benefits until the company discovered that he was an illegal immigrant. He was fired.

Navarro has learned that he needs a kidney transplant to live and his wife, a compatible match, has offered hers. Otherwise he will die.

That's where the story takes an ugly turn.

UCSF, a hospital that does more kidney transplants than any other in the nation, has refused to do the operation because Navarro may be deported and unable to pay the bills.

No doubt, the hospital is going by "the book" in terms of economic logic. Yet, one can only wonder what "the book" would say Navarro if were legal.The argument can be made that Navarro shouldn't have been here in the first place, but he is here.

And ironically, if one of his U.S.-born children needed a kidney, there would be no issue under current laws. Even more muddled is the fact that children who are in the U.S. illegally are allowed to attend public schools and gain other public benefits.

The bottom line is that our immigration policy is fraught with inconsistency. Farmers and other employers look the other way when they benefit from illegals who take jobs others won't, yet illegal immigrants are not allowed to obtain drivers' licenses.

Sooner or later, we have to make sense of immigration policy with clear rules for everyone.

For Jesus Navarro's sake, his only hope is that resolution come sooner, because time is not on his side.   

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