Patricia Presa will seek treatment for her uterine cancer in Mexico. (Photos: Valeria Fernández)
PHOENIX, Arizona — A month ago, Patricia Presa learned that she has uterine cancer. She’s decided to go back to her native Mexico to seek treatment there, because she is an undocumented immigrant and can’t afford to pay for health care in the U.S.
“Unfortunately, I need the treatment but I don’t have the money to pay for the expenses. Whether it is the medicine or the doctor’s appointments, each costs me $110,” said Presa, who’s 33. She doesn’t know if the care she’ll receive in Mexico will be better than what’s available in Arizona, but she hopes she can apply for a form of public insurance the country offers to residents known as Seguro Popular. She is married to a U.S. citizen, but because she came across the border illegally she is ineligible to adjust her immigration status or receive health care benefits in the U.S.
Listen to Presa (in Spanish):
The decision by Presa and other unauthorized migrants to return to their home country for medical treatment is further evidence of the link between two hotly contested issues facing Congress and the Obama administration — health care reform and immigration. The ability of undocumented immigrants to access health care services under President Obama’s reform package has stirred controversy and criticism from both ends of the political spectrum. But for the most part, the undocumented themselves have not had a voice in the debate