Undocumented immigrant in coma set to be returned to Mexico
By Judith Graham and Deanese Williams-Harris |Chicago Tribune reporter
August 20, 2008
A 30-year-old Mexican man in a coma at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago has ignited a dispute over a little-known practice at hospitals—sending medically needy undocumented immigrants back to their countries of origin.
The disagreement revolves around Francisco Pantaleon, who arrived in the U.S. 11 years ago and suffered a severe brain hemorrhage in mid-July, according to his sister Socorro. A father of two, Pantaleon worked at a carwash and has no health insurance, she said.
The medical center believes there is "little hope for recovery," according to a statement released Tuesday, and officials arranged for Pantaleon to be transferred to a hospital in Acapulco at UIC's expense. An official said his immediate family consented to the move.
But Pantaleon's sister and cousin are protesting that arrangement and have retained lawyers in hopes of preventing it. "This is an injustice," said his sister, who worries that Pantaleon won't survive the trip or find adequate care in Mexico.