An undocumented and uninsured immigrant was sent to his native country when a U.S. hospital decided to deport him back without ever getting consent. Diplomats and hospital officials are trying to figure out who engineered his deportation and if similar cases have occurred.
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Wladyslaw Haniszewski, 69, lived in the U.S. for about 30 years. He suffered from a blood disease and when he lost his job, he eventually moved to a homeless shelter. He was hospitalized earlier this month where he suffered from a stroke. U.S. hospitals are legally bound to take care of anyone in an emergency but are allowed to deport stabilized undocumented patients through a process called ‘medical repatriation.’ In order for this to occur, there must be consent from either the patient, family or a court guardian. Consular officials say this did not happen in Haniszewski’s case. When he fell unconscious, family and friends identified who he was, but upon returning after a week, they were told he was deported.
This case is quite disturbing to several legal scholars who say this is not the first time this has happened. A new report claims that U.S. hospitals arrange for the deportation of undocumented patients frequently in order to save money. According to the Center for Social Justice and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, “Within the past five years at least 600 immigrants were involuntarily removed from healthcare facilities to other medical facilities in their home country.” In the hospital’s defense, a spokesperson said they followed proper procedures and refused to comment further citing a privacy law. ICE does not deal with repatriations, which are paid for by hospitals.
Immigrant Advocates are outraged at the hospital’s actions and believe that hospitals are overstepping their boundaries. “A hospital should not be in the business of deporting patients,” said Shena Elrington, director of the Health Justice Program. For areas such as St. Louis, being home to 53 hospitals and a growing immigrant population, should be wary of these cases which may result in legal repercussions.
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