There are 300 million Americans and just 12 million illegal immigrants. It's simply silly to suggest that we have to solve illegal immigration before solving health care. Minority status is not a good reason for putting off an issue.
The only kind of political expediency that logic backs is called "divide and conquer," and it may be used against anyone and everyone
on various issues. As Fox News has recently pointed out, so many Americans could easily be found "impure" of heritage or faith in some way. (See separate Politics thread.)
If your numbers are right, illegal immigrants are about 4% of the population.
Under that logic, whose welfare could be put off during any period of change...
Each of these groups among legal citizens
counted as less than 4% (as of the 2000 Census):
(and presumably numerous others too "small" for the chart). http://www.odos.uiuc.edu/aacc/images/demographics.gif
4-5% of the population identifies as Gay or Lesbian. http://www.siecus.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.viewpage&pageid=605&grandparentID=477&parentID=591#howmany
10% or so are Left-Handed (including the president). A larger individual group, but still small.
And, imagine the savings if all desks were shaped the same way?
Universal coverage and all that is very nice, but really, I think more importantly, year after year after year health care costs have kept rising, preventative care has withered, and if that continues - if we don't put the kind of controls on this industry that every other developed country has - this will be cancerous to American businesses, which have to bear the cost of health care for their employees, the American government, which has to pay for Medicare/Medicaid, and of course American citizens, who have to pay their HMOs and copays and whatever their insurance doesn't cover.
I don't think you've shown definitively that we cannot manage costs sufficiently to cover migrants.
There are a couple problems in there.
1. You mention that costs have skyrocketed. That has occurred under existing
The argument here is about whether to change the rules in various ways.
2. Granted, I would like to know more about other countries' rules.
Are their migrant populations as abused in the same ways as those in agriculture and domestic labor in the US have been historically? The authors of Global Woman
say yes; this is actually common around the developed world. That leads me to believe there are only limited efforts to address migrant health in general. Even if so, that would not prove that covering migrants or securing quality of life for a larger portion of them (a small percent of the US population, as you point out) would necessarily be prohibitively expensive.
Would it be better if we had a solution for both illegal immigration and health care at once? Yes. But the political process is notoriously bad at getting even one thing done, let alone two at once. So even if it means letting some free-riders slip through, I think we need to keep our priorities straight and take care of the biggest problems first.
I know our political system has a good deal of "divide and conquer" combined with heavy doses of (often partisan or pork-motivated) delays and confusion. However, there are also cases where no action on an issue, or only symbolic action, proves to make other action down the road harder rather than easier. Compromise when you must, but not sooner.
My thinking is, it's better to take a serious stand on issues to begin with and say what would be just. Not just what "will" get through Congress (how many weeks and news cycles later, during which attack ads and heaven knows what external issue weaken public focus too). The softer approach can be self-defeating. We already have a pattern of putting off "minority" interests again and again. Collectively, they become a majority issue of problems across so many sectors. Whatever majority forms in the moment can try to stick with baby steps, but this isn't ethical and there will always be scattered protests, riots, and grisly facts surfacing... So many abuses, in our own backyard.