LANDSCAPE:Fine would fund hospitals


O.C. supervisor proposes charging illegal immigrants booked into local jails $250 to $400.

February 08, 2007|By Alicia Robinson

People booked into the Costa Mesa and Orange County jails can expect to have their immigration status checked, and if they're found to be in the U.S. illegally, a fine from the county might be added to their troubles.

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach on Tuesday proposed charging a fine between $250 and $400 to illegal immigrants in the Costa Mesa and county jails as a way to offset some uncompensated emergency room care at local hospitals.

Moorlach said he threw the idea out there as an alternative to what the board was considering: an increase in traffic ticket fees for moving violations.


The board decided late last year to seek extra money for hospitals to cover care that's not reimbursed, but Moorlach didn't want to use traffic tickets as the funding source, he said.

"I don't see the correlation between someone driving a car and someone providing pediatric care," he said. "If I'm going to increase a penalty on somebody, I'd like it to be a little closer to the source of the costs being incurred by the healthcare industry in this county."

Moorlach suggested charging illegal immigrants in the jails, he said, because if they came here illegally they bypassed the normal health screenings legal immigrants receive and in that way are potentially burdening the healthcare system.

He's not yet sure it can be done, but supervisors agreed Tuesday to get more information about the proposal.


Earlier this week, Costa Mesa Assemblyman Van Tran criticized President Bush for nixing federal reimbursement to states for incarcerating illegal immigrants. In a statement sent out Tuesday in response to the president's budget, Tran said the administration should "take financial responsibility for the failed federal immigration policy and fully fund the incarceration of illegal immigrants in the state of California and border states."


Newport Beach Rep. John Campbell reaffirmed his support Tuesday for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to be the GOP's presidential nominee in 2008.

Campbell said he decided way back in August to back Romney if he ran. Tuesday's announcement was that 23 members of congress are supporting Romney — more, Campbell said, than any other Republican presidential hopeful so far.

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