Perez: Giving Health Care to Illegal Immigrants Is ‘Not a Handout’

Accuses Republicans of not having compassion

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said on Sunday that the Democratic platform of providing health insurance to illegal immigrants is "not a handout" during an interview with Fox News's Chris Wallace.

Last week's Democratic debates sparked a call among the candidates to have the government provide health care for illegal immigrants. All 10 Democratic 2020 candidates at Thursday night’s debate raised their hand when asked if their healthcare plans would provide coverage to illegal immigrants.

"Every person on that stage, all ten of them said that they would provide health insurance coverage for people in this country illegally either under Obamacare for "Medicare for all," whichever they supported. No talk about preconditions, not paying in taxes, the basic point was we were in this country legally or illegally, you get health insurance coverage," Wallace said.

"And it's an insurance program so have to pay into it. So immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, pay billions of dollars in taxes and that's the reality," Perez said.

The Democrats' position on this has apparently changed since former President Barack Obama stated in his 2009 address to Congress that his health care law wouldn't cover illegal immigrants. Wallace played the clip and asked Perez to respond.

"Democrats believe that you should be able to buy into a health insurance system. It's not a handout," Perez said.

"Obama didn't say that," Wallace said.

"We were in a different era. I believe what we are doing right now, I live in a community right now where if you are a pregnant woman and you are undocumented, we provide you with access to health care because we believe that having good prenatal care is an essential health care issue an essential issue of economics and frankly an essential issue of morality and the party of Lincoln is dead and one of the things that died with it is compassion and this is not a handout," Perez said. "Again, this is allowing people to buy into an insurance program program."