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Rewarding criminals with privileges of U.S. citizenship
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Francisco Cortez Lopez is receiving dialysis.

The medical treatment is being paid for by Medi-Cal.

There's nothing wrong with that happening, right?

The 43-year-old, though, isn't a typical Medi-Cal patient.

Lopez is a deported illegal. He was let back into the country on humanitarian reasons, because he couldn't afford treatment for his kidney failure in Mexico.

A bit about Lopez' background.

He has worked for a number of years in the United States as a plumber and electrician. He had been living with his life partner and their three U.S.-born children in Pasadena.

Lopez - assuming he never worked under the table - had payroll deductions taken out for taxes. He obviously spent money in stores on taxable items and in all likelihood paid property taxes as well. There are those that would argue that should entitle him to government services such as Medi-Cal.

It seems logical, but only to a point.

In 1998, a judge issued a voluntary departure order for Cortez but he failed to leave the United States. Not only was the original act of him entering this country illegal, therefore making him a criminal, but ignoring a lawful order of the American justice system also makes him a criminal.

There was at least one amnesty program offered during the time that Lopez had been in the country illegally but he obviously declined to take advantage of the offer.

So it comes down to this: How much does Lopez really value America?

Is he embarrassed to be known as a citizen of the United States or is he simply gaming the system?

Those who have an issue with immigration across the board often forget that immigrants and guest workers are an important part of what makes our economy hum in bad and good times.

The real issue should be why he apparently felt being an American citizen was somehow beneath him or why he essentially wanted to write his own rules.

Some will vehemently disagree, but even with high unemployment, there is still a need for guest workers. Sometimes they are highly trained or specialized but most of the time they take jobs that everyone else seems willing to pass over. And it is true some of that may be from well-documented efforts by businesses - Wal-Mart was one for example with janitorial help - that knowingly hired vendors using illegals because they could get work done for less than the law required them to pay than if they used American citizens.

But when all is said and done, the responsibility comes back to the individual. The United States is a sovereign nation. Lopez decided to access this country's opportunities and government services but he did not want to follow the rules and enter the country legally. That makes him a criminal from the get go.

Lopez then ignored a lawful order of a judge. That makes him a criminal twice.

He apparently also has never even tried to become a citizen.

And now he gets to reap the benefits after repeatedly breaking the law and declining to make any effort to become a citizen.

There are people who follow all of the rules who are denied treatment from their healthcare provider, whether it is a private or public agency.

But if you're an illegal and you repeatedly break the law regarding entry and have the guts stay in this country illegally then you are rewarded with medical treatment.

No wonder people around the world are still clamoring to come to the United States.

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.