Recent editions of The Times have been filled with accounts of the Orange Police Department's targeting of Latino day laborers for arrest and then turning them over to the U.S. Border Patrol if they cannot provide proof of legal residency.
Those in favor of these arrests include business owners and residents who complain that these laborers are creating a public nuisance. I would argue that these business owners and residents should look past possible inconvenience and think a little bit about how the threat of deportation affects not only these laborers but the rest of the residents of Orange County.
As a psychiatric resident at UC Irvine Medical Center I am often called to see people who are fortunate enough to survive suicide attempts. Last Sunday I went to see a young Latino male who had shot himself in the head in such an attempt. When I asked him why he had wanted to die, he told me that his employer had fired him because he was an undocumented worker, and he was afraid that he would be returned to Mexico. He was feeling desperate enough that he attempted to take his own life.
He failed in his attempt and will have no major long-term physical consequences from this attempt. After he is stable medically, he will be transferred to a psychiatric hospital where he will receive care at the expense of the county.
It seems imperative to me that those who are insistent upon deportation of undocumented workers consider the implications of the threat of deportation. If they are not concerned about the effects on the workers themselves, maybe they should be concerned about the financial burden of hospital costs that we all share when a desperate worker attempts to take his life.
BARBARA A. SILVER, MD