Singer Cher in a recent tweet stated “I understand taking care of struggling immigrants, but my city (Los Angeles) isn’t taking care of its own.” Cher goes on: “if my state can’t take care of its own, how can they take care of more?” She refers to homeless, poor, and hungry.
Bob, a cancer patient, is a big fan of Cher. He thinks Cher is correct but needs to add cancer patients to her list. He thinks she and other Hollywood types should tweet about the cost/waste associated with a broken immigration system.
Bob says: “our system costs United States taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Congress needs to rewrite the laws, fix the system and use the millions saved to help our own cancer patients. Instead the politicians just accept the broken system and go about their lives.”
A doctor in San Francisco needed just an additional $3,000 to start a cancer research project. Money is tight in the research world. In fact, many projects never get started due to lack of funding. Bob’s support group raised the money by working together at fundraising events because:
- They are excited about the recent mergers of medicine, technology and big data. They view this collaboration as a gateway to new opportunities in cancer treatment.
- They believe in precision medicine which combines patient genomics, environment and lifestyle. They have seen recent success in immunotherapy and targeted treatments and believe biomedicine should be pursued.
- Data shows too many people are diagnosed and dying from cancer. The cancer community must help accelerated research.
- They see the disruption of certain clinical trial protocols as a plus. To them, urgency is a must.
We have all listened to politicians in congress explain why the immigration system is broken, why it needs to be fixed (including cost savings), and why each side blames the other.
Howard Schultz, former Starbucks CEO, in a recent town hall meeting (1) pointed to President George W. Bush and President Obama, both while in office submitted to Congress an immigration bill. Those bills would be indistinguishable today but failed because the opposition rejected them for political reasons. His comparison shows that even when similar ideas are on the table nothing gets done.
Bob thinks they willfully stay apart and adds “it’s due to partisan politics and minor differences on key points. All it would take is a few tweaks. Without a solution more cancer patients will die needlessly.”
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in their Annual Plan and Budget Proposal for fiscal year 2020: (2) approximately 1.8 million people were diagnosed and 650,000 died in the United States in 2018. The numbers will continue to grow each year.
In that same proposal the NCI, which is our nations leader in funding cancer research, has requested 6.5 billion dollars to continue operations in fiscal year 2020. Overall the proposal does a good job of directing attention to areas with the potential to improve cancer prevention, detection and treatment. But with our country’s growing cancer problems….is it enough? Consider the following:
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recently opened the door to greater patient participation. This is due in part to the Cancer Moonshot program and their panel of experts who listed patient participation as a main goal in the advancement of research. (3) The NIH may need to increase the budget for staffing, patient travel and logistics as more patients come forward.
- The NCI has funded and built a solid foundation in biomedicine making the United States the world leader. Their investments must continue as other nations are moving to take the lead. The potential payoff in saving lives and amassing benefits in jobs and wealth is huge. Will they have enough money to stay in front?
- It’s a fact that cancer treatments start in clinical trials. The NCI and other organizations continue to work on streamlining the process. They are now using super computers, creating massive data bases and gathering an unprecedented number of patient samples.
To cancer patients, every minute counts. They know many trials never get off the ground due to lack of funding. They don’t want delays in clinical trials nor see them fail due to lack of money.
How many more clinical trials could be started if the NCI had asked for an additional one billion dollars. Can you imagine the possibilities if the NCI was able to allocate that much more to universities and private researchers.
Maybe we should ask the many cancer patients who:
- Cannot find or are turned away from clinical trials.
- Cannot afford to have their DNA tested for gene mutations.
- Cannot find information on recent immunotherapy or targeted therapy.
- Can not access potential life saving drugs under right to try legislation.
Before asking yourself if one billion more is an outrageous request, one needs to know the minimum cost and waste to United States taxpayers for supporting first generation migrants under our immigration system? If you search the internet you will find studies and news reports suggesting it runs into hundreds of billions of dollars each year. (4) Others suggest the number is zero. The truth is somewhere in the middle.
We should be able to turn to our government (Congressional Budget Office, Homeland Security, Government Accounting Office, etc.) for current true numbers. Their work on this has been lacking. After all these years taxpayers should have the cost from a reliable tracking system.
One thing is for sure, the costs associated with immigration have substantially risen from that time of the Obama and Bush administrations when the Democrats and Republicans could not agree on similar plans.
Just look at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in their 2020 budget proposal. (5) They are asking for billions of dollars to deal with the issue. They need that amount and probably more given a variety of circumstances today. This cost will continue to rise each year unless politicians put together a comprehensive immigration plan.
Those rising costs would be better spent on cancer research. It’s a fact that cancer research needs extra dollars and our country needs immigrants. An immigration fix that cuts billions of dollars is a win win for cancer patients, immigrants and our country. That makes sense to most people but there’s no fix in sight and no real push to move our politicians.
The good news is that President Trumps administration and most of Congress view cancer as a bipartisan issue. Thats because everyone on both sides of the aisle have been or know someone touched by cancer.
The next time someone they know dies from cancer, maybe they will think about our broken immigration system and wasted dollars. Broken immigration policy equals wasted dollars.