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Jan 28, 2013 11:26 PM by Rebecca Taylor

Immigration check at Arizona hospitals being proposed

TUCSON - Controversy surrounding a new bill making its way at the state capitol.

Critics claim house bill 2293 essentially turns hospitals into immigration checkpoints.

The measure would require uninsured patients to provide proof of citizenship.

But it provides exceptions for Canadians and many Europeans.

Sponsor Steve Smith, a Maricopa County Republican calls it a 'data collection bill'.

But Hispanic groups, predict it will make undocumented migrants less likely to seek care.

If you don't have insurance, you may be asked to show a drivers license, visa, or passport.

If you leave home without it, under the bill, the police will be called.

University of Arizona medical school professor, Dr. Dan Derksen says right now in Arizona one in five people don't have health insurance.

"So if you look at that, 6.5 million Arizonans, there's almost two million that are Hispanic or Latino," says Derksen.

Some human rights groups say the bill would legalize racial profiling.

They worry undocumented migrants won't go to the hospital or seek pre-natal care.

Clea Formac, a native of Switzerland says, "if someone needs help, especially in an emergency it doesn't matter where he's from."

"And if in an emergency case, the time it takes to check paperwork could make a difference of living or dying," says Edgar Rivera a native of Mexico.

Representative Smith insists his goal isn't to crack down on illegal immigration, but to find out how much the state pays to serve them.

If it becomes law Dr. Derksen says it would disruptive.

"This would be an enormous administrative burden for hospitals for physicians, for nurses," says Derksen, "this will get in the way of necessary care."

We reached out to Representative Smith for comment, so far he hasn't gotten back with us.

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