Does Florida law require undocumented immigrants to disclose their immigration status at hospitals? We explain

Does Florida law require undocumented immigrants to disclose their immigration status at hospitals?  We explain

Florida Immigration Act HR 1718 It comes into effect from July 1., but it has already sowed anxiety and fear across the state. It is the toughest law of its kind in the United States because of the high level of punishment and demands. One of them would alert undocumented immigrants and both citizens and permanent residents: Hospitals should ask about their patients’ immigration status.

Since the rule was proposed in March, immigrant rights groups have been vocal against Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Legislature (with Republican majorities in both chambers) not to add the provision, but after a brief debate the bill was signed into law. Law last week.

“What’s more troubling right now is the fear this law is already creating,” said Maria Bilbao, campaign coordinator for the American Friends Service Group (AFSC).

Little information and misinformation regarding this section of the HR 1718 legislation has fueled fears. Also, campaigns to educate people about what the new law is about and whether or not hospitals will collect identity data on undocumented immigrants to send to state governments.

“We’re letting people in our state know that They can refuse to disclose their immigration status when seeking medical assistance”, explains Bilbao. “And those with legal permanent status must do so in unison because that is their right” (not to disclose their immigration status).

Bilbao added, “Hospitals requesting the immigration status of their patients on registration forms They cannot use the answers to deny care or make a report to federal immigration authorities“, to be precise.

What does HR 1718 say about hospitals?

Section 5 of HR 1718 on the collection of immigration status information states that “hospitals accepting the Medicaid program shall include on their intake or patient registration forms that the patient or the patient’s representative declare or indicate that the patient is a citizen. United States or is legal in the United States or is not legal in the United States.

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“But it says that the query in the form should be followed by a statement The response will not affect the patient’s care or provide information to immigration authorities about the patient’s immigration status”, explains the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

In addition, the new law requires hospitals to “submit quarterly reports to the Agency for Health Care Administration” that include “the number of hospitalizations or ER visits during the previous quarter that he or the patient indicated. She was a U.S. citizen or lawfully present in the United States, was not lawfully present in the United States, or declined to answer.”

Failure to answer a question such as disclosing immigration status to a hospital; “You don’t want to keep quiet and answer.”says Jose Guerrero, an immigration attorney practicing in Miami, South Florida. “This does not apply to the 5th Amendment of the Constitution, which provides the right to remain silent against self-incrimination. It’s up to you if you want to call it that, but in this case you are You can answer this question or not.Collaboration.

Reports on immigration status

Section 5 of HR1718 also requires the State Agency for Health Care Administration to “submit to the Governor and the Legislature by March 1 of each year an annual report of the number of hospitalizations or emergencies in the department of hospital visits during the preceding quarter” if a patient is a US citizen or is not lawfully present in the United States. , is not legally in the United States, or has refused to respond.

“The report must also include the costs of uncompensated care for aliens not lawfully present in the United States, the cost or ability of hospitals to provide services to the public, the hospitals’ financial needs, and the impact of uncompensated care on other relevant information.

Act 1718 authorizes the aforementioned government agency to “adopt rules relating to the acceptable form to be used by hospitals to request information about a patient’s immigration status,” but the rules, it warns, “The agency is not required to release patients’ names or any other personally identifiable information.”

Regarding this section of the new law, AILA warns: “a man You do not have to provide your immigration status to hospitals; The bill should include an option to require registration forms ‘refuses to answer’.

Biggest risk: “They don’t go to the hospital”

A key part of Section 5 of Florida’s new immigration law is the patient’s right to remain silent when asked about their immigration status. That’s why aid agencies and immigrant rights advocates are rushing to educate and promote campaigns being used across the state.

“The biggest risk is that people stop going, they don’t go to hospitals when they have a medical emergency because they think they’re going to be in danger,” says senior advocate Anne Janet Hernandez Anderson. At the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

“The law says that if the patient is a citizen or has permission to be in the United States, the registration forms must have a question. But the same form must say the answer. Should not affect the person’s care”, he adds.

Hernandez Anderson explains further. Immigrant without legal resident status in the United States.

The SPLC emphasizes that hospitals “cannot act as immigration agents” or file complaints to initiate deportation proceedings. “They must ensure that the patient or patients receive the medical care they need.”

In turn, the lead SPLC advocate explains that the legislation, HR1718, “expects people not to answer this question.” He adds that the new law only shows the number of care-seekers, not their identities.

“Those numbers go to a state agency. And that agency sends it to the governor once a year. That report is just the numbers and how many people answered or didn’t answer the question about their immigration status. There must be no change in health care or ICE or CBP agents receiving treatment for a medical issue.” They should not come to the arriving hospital and detain them and then deport them,” he warned.

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Prepare a Plan B

Activists and lawyers consulted by Univision News agree that if an alien is arrested after July 1, or is a citizen or lawful permanent resident driving a car with an undocumented relative, “they have the right to remain silent and to have a lawyer.” ”.

In turn, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) all people living in the United States Protected by law and constitutionincluding undocumented immigrants.

Now, if you have a deportation order in effect, Guerrero recommends “seeking legal aid immediately.” “If you have a deportation order, you will be targeted by the government. So get legal advice and develop a strategy, a Plan B.”

Plan B consists of:

If you have a current deportation order and fear you may be arrested, during a police action or search, keep the following in mind:

  1. Talk to your lawyer Check your file Determine if you qualify for any Option to reopen your case;
  2. Choose a trusted person, family member or friend that you will call if you are arrested;

When choosing who to call if you are arrested during an operation or during a search, immigration aid organizations recommend:

  • Leave one Writing-power to make decisions in your absence about your children and assets;
  • If you have school age children, please contact the school and register that person’s name so they can be picked up from the facility;
  • Try to make sure the person helping you is not undocumented. If you do not have legal residence documents, do not contact the Immigration Service.

Arzu Daniel

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