Mitchell stands with taxpayers in opposition to welfare benefits for illegal immigrants

Despite the ongoing budget impasse and billions of dollars in unpaid bills, the Illinois House voted Tuesday to continue a controversial program that provides welfare benefits for illegal immigrants.

Covering ALL KIDS, a remnant of disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration, provides health care coverage for children, regardless of immigration status. Undocumented enrollees are not eligible for federal Medicaid funds, so the entire cost of providing health insurance to illegal immigrants is paid for by Illinois taxpayers.

The ALL KIDS program was set to expire on July 1, 2016. House Bill 5736 would continue the program for another three years. State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) stood in strong opposition to the legislation, voting against HB 5736, which passed the House on a vote of 77-38.

“ALL KIDS has been a fiscal disaster for Illinois taxpayers, costing us more than $500 million,” Mitchell said. “If you ever want to know why we’re broke, just look at ALL KIDS. Illinois is drowning in a sea of red ink, with $7.6 billion in unpaid bills. We have no budget. Our universities and community colleges aren’t being funded. Vitally important services for seniors and our most vulnerable citizens aren’t being funded. The State of Illinois has no business providing welfare benefits to people who are in this state and country illegally, especially when we can’t even take care of our own citizens.”

ALL KIDS program audits conducted by the Illinois Auditor General show that nearly 70 percent of the enrollees and 65 percent of the total cost comes from undocumented immigrants. Between Fiscal Years 2009 and 2014 (latest audit available), Illinois spent $320 million on health coverage for undocumented immigrants under the Expanded ALL KIDS Plan. None of these costs were matched by the federal government. Illinois taxpayers paid the entire cost for these non-citizens.

“Working families in my district want to know why the State is using their tax dollars to provide free health care to illegal immigrants,” Mitchell said. “Illinois has become a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants. We give them health care coverage, drivers’ licenses and in-state tuition. All I can say is ‘if you subsidize it, they will come.’ I warned against this when ALL KIDS originally passed. Here we are, a decade later, having spent half a billion dollars, and the Chicago politicians want to continue this failed program for another three years? I remain absolutely opposed to this giveaway to illegals.”

House Bill 806 (P.A. 94-693) created the Covering ALL KIDS Health Insurance Act. Rep. Bill Mitchell was one of 28 House members to vote against the Blagojevich initiative when it originally passed in 2005.