Fall Into A Coma, Wake Up In Poland – ain’t America great?

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus
Mounted in bronze on the Statue of Liberty


Hospitals are sending immigrants home. They aren’t sending them home after treating them of their illnesses or injuries, bidding them a fond farewell. They are unceremoniously shipping them off while still in dire need of care. Long before any doctor would authorize a patient’s discharge, sick and injured people are getting the boot.

And when I say “home” I mean their home countries, without even knowing they’d made the trip.

Get sick enough to fall into a coma, and have the temerity to do so while uninsured, and you might find yourself waking up in Poland, the land you were born in but haven’t seen in 30 years.

Or get severely injured in a car accident – even when you have insurance from your employer – and you can still find yourself regaining consciousness in your home country thousands of miles away.

People can argue all they want about immigration policy and health care policy. For Christians, this should be about doctrine. Why? Because sound doctrine and good works go together. (Titus 2:7-8.) You don’t think there’s a doctrine that covers this? Keep reading.

The Doctrine of Sick Immigrants

The Bible is replete with instructions about caring for those who join us from another country, for example:

Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 22:21.)

This should be important to us not only because God commands it, but because it is personally important to God:

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19.)

God’s care extends to those who are injured and sick as well:

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3.)

He cares so much about caring for the sick that Jesus included it in his ministry when he walked the earth. He healed the blind (e.g., John 9:1-12), a woman bleeding for years (Mark 5:25-34), and a man paralyzed and incapable of getting himself from one place to another. (Luke 5:17-26.)

And just in case you are thinking that Jesus only cared about those who belonged to God’s chosen people, Israel, remember that he indiscriminately allowed anyone in the foreign land of Gennesarat who wanted to touch his robe to do so and be healed of whatever illness they suffered from. (Matthew 14:34-36.) No paperwork or permission required; Jesus just did it.

We’re the richest country in the world and what is it we do?

We take a poor sick immigrant in a coma, charter a flight for them back to whatever country they came from, and ship them off while they’re still unconscious, dumping them there to hope for the best – if they don’t die before ever waking up.

I think we Americans should take that plaque off the Statue of Liberty.

And I think we Christians should pay attention to our doctrine and care for the foreigners among us.

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20 Responses to Fall Into A Coma, Wake Up In Poland – ain’t America great?

  1. Tim thank you for writing on a post that is ever so dear to my heart.

    For several reasons but most of all two major ones.
    1) As Christians we are aliens/immigrants to this planet merely passing through.
    2) Unless your Native American you are the seed of immigrants.

    I was blessed in another life to employ dozens of immigrants and saw first hand how my ancestors (being full bloodied Irish) may have been treated at one time. As I watched the treatment my employees sufferred. My girls grew to call them family and two of my top employees their brothers.

    Thanks for writing about this and being bold in your faith in doing so!

    • Tim says:

      Your experience sounds like a wonderful blessing all around: you and your family and the people you got to work with. Our God is so good to bring people together like that.


      P.S. And on immigration, I’d say even the Native Americans fall into that category. Just because someone gets somewhere first doesn’t mean they didn’t come from somewhere else, after all.

  2. janehinrichs says:

    This is horrible — this is happening!!!! I am going to read your links. Wow. Thanks for this story Tim.

    • Tim says:

      Jane, I think you’ll find the stories appalling. It’s shameful that the richest country in the world has a system set up to send people away like this when what they need is medical care.

  3. Jeannie says:

    Wow, what an eye-opener! Thanks for this information and for the biblical connection. Would these policies pass the Micah 6:8 test (“act justly, embrace kindness, walk humbly”), I often ask? Yikes!

    • Tim says:

      I suppose I’m not surprised when the world doesn’t meet the standards of Micah 6:8, but I would hope that God’s people will refrain from – and speak against – things like sending comatose patients back to where they came from without notice or permission!

  4. Bronwyn Lea says:

    During the first year we were in the States, I had no health insurance. We had thought that Jeremy’s would cover me, but the university had changed its policy a few weeks before we arrived to specifically exclude dependents of grad students. We spent that first year too poor to purchase our own insurance, and living in fear of something just like this happening. In particular, we we terrified we might get pregnant and be booted back penniless and with baby in tow! Thanks for your post – both as an immigrant and especially as a Christian, I appreciate it.

    • Tim says:

      What a country! You can be here as productive members of society (e.g., a grad student family) and live in fear that a health care issue might send you packing. Glad you didn’t get the boot, Bronwyn!

  5. This is a shocker.

    And yes, the Exodus passage where God’s instructions Jews about caring for those who join *them* in Israel– since they too had been foreigners in Egypt– from other countries should instruct us Christians here in America (both theologically and “on the ground.”).

    However, before we condemn America too quickly, we are an exceedingly generous nation. Not only due to the many who are here illegally and impacting all Americans, but for example the enormous sums of money we give to others, including Egypt, coincidentally.

    Recently on his trip there, John Kerry gave 250,000,000 (two hundred and fifty million) American dollars to Egypt, even as many Americans struggle with bankruptcy, failed business, foreclosures, high un-employment rates, no cost of living raises (for years) etc.

    And, you may not know this, but the crew with Kerry was not able to stay in country on this trip as it was far too dangerous. Even as we spent the money to go there, and give to them, they threatened the lives of those bringing the gifts.

    • Tim says:

      I’m glad you gave the examples of governmental action, SwJ, because the conduct I’m writing about here is private and not public action. As a country, we do more than any other to care for the people within our borders and abroad. But for a private hospital to dump a comatose patient without consent or awareness is abominable. I’m not complaining about our government; I’m talking about regular old American citizens who make these types of decisions for hospitals.

  6. Aimee Byrd says:

    This article tears me up, Tim. Of course, it is just terrible to deny anyone care. I am torn about the whole “illegal” immigrant part. I’m afraid that we have gotten so political that we have made it
    1) Extremely difficult and expensive for immigrants to legally become citizens
    2) Much more tempting to come on over illegally
    And then, if we want to have compassion on actual people made in the image of God, we have lost authority to enforce the laws that we do have. Caring for our neighbors has been buried in red tape, people who are trying to abide by the laws and make a good living can barely afford it, others are government dependent, and the medical industry is also buried in insurance costs and lawsuits.
    What your article reminds me is that everyone is made in the image of God, and no matter what our political stance is about the immigration laws, we can’t paint everyone into a broad stereotype. The world needs good Samaritans. Even more so, our Savior is the ultimate Good Samaritan who did pay our debt to give us eternal life instead of sending us back to where we really belong.

    • Tim says:

      The other thing about the articles I attached, Aimee, is that not everyone who is being shipped off in a coma is in our country illegally. People here quite legally have found themselves waking up in foreign hospitals, and as you saw in Bronwyn’s comment above she saw this as a possibility should she have become not sick but pregnant while uninsured. And even having insurance was not enough for one of the subjects of the articles above to avoid being shipped off while unconscious.

      Even more appalling is that this is happening by private action without any sort of government approval or judicial review before the hospitals are chartering planes and dumping patients.

  7. ::: applauds :::
    Agreed! It is terrible how “we” treat the “sojourner”.
    We should help them. We should love them.
    I honestly think the Statue of Liberty is an idol, but that is something else entirely from your point, but definitely we praise and admire the statue but don’t do what we are supposed to in regards to why it was put here in NJ (yes, it is in NJ, not NY like people believe hehe). So much for helping the homeless, the tired, the poor, etc. . .we show no love to those who are in need of love.

    From reading many human trafficking books, I have learned that many times the US will send off trafficking victims back to their countries without knowing they are trafficking victims. They believe that the US is a safe place and come in after being raped or forced into hard labor. When they are sent back into their land, they end up trapped and put right back into the “hell” that we kicked them back into. . .and some are sent back more than once when a trafficker sends them into the US in a different way and they get caught somewhere. Gah! How horrible that we turn away our eyes to the oppressed!

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