Immigration law takes effect amid wide uncertaintyApril 1, 1997
Web posted at: 9:37 p.m. EST (0237 GMT)
From Correspondent Jonathan Karl
NEW YORK (CNN) -- A tough new federal immigration law takes effect Tuesday after a series of court challenges failed to prevent the measure.
But immigration rights groups worry about the new rule's unintended consequences, and health care is one example. Because of the new law, immigrants may have a harder time getting immunization shots and other treatment at medical clinics.
"People have to become more invisible," Dr. Marco Mason of the Immigrant Service Center says. "That means if somebody has some kind of illness or ailment, they'd rather stay at home and self manage."
The new law sharply limits the welfare and health benefits available to immigrants.
Other provisions of the immigration law, signed in September, will:
But immigration advocates worry that the law will also frighten immigrants from seeking treatment they are still entitled to -- such as immunizations for their children -- treatment for infections diseases and emergency medical treatment.
"We've heard from local agencies that there's been a fall-off in people coming for basic inoculations and for contagious disease screenings," Margie McHugh of the New York Immigration Coalition said.
The public health implications are far-reaching. Nearly half of the tuberculosis cases in New York last year involved people born outside the U.S.
Through hotlines and other methods, immigration advocates are trying to stress that the children of illegal immigrants -- if they were born in the U.S. -- are American citizens and are entitled to full benefits.
Confusion is an inevitable byproduct of the new immigration law. It is hundreds of pages long and covers everything from welfare benefits to political asylum.
A volley of last minute court challenges left the law's implementation in doubt until minutes before it went into effect April 1.
Related sites:Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.