9 On Your Side Immigration Watch
Hospital to wife: pull plug or send Mexican immigrant back to Mexico
Reporter: Steve Nuñez
PHOENIX, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - It's now a case of life or death. The wife of a comatose Mexican immigrant claims a Phoenix hospital is putting money and immigration status over the life of her husband. Loved one's say there's more to this story: federal immigration laws fail to reward those who are doing the right thing by coming across legally.
Evelyn, the wife of 23-year old Jesus Cornelio, who is currently being treated at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, said she's faced with a with a difficult decision: take her husband off of life support.
"Which means take him to my house or take him where I want him to be for the last few minutes," said Cornelio. "I don't know what to feel, stress, sad, I can't even cry anymore."
If not, Evelyn claims the hospital told her it'll take her brain injured husband to Mexico for further treatment.
9 On Your Side Reporter Steve Nuñez asked: "Why not just take him back to Mexico?"
"He belongs here," said Cornelio. "All of his family is here."
Jesus suffered an aneurism while playing soccer ten days ago.
So far, Evelyn said he's incurred thousands of dollars in medical expenses. The state's medicare system denied his insurance coverage because he's not a U.S. Citizen.
Evelyn claims Jesus appears to be responding to commands and is showing signs of movement in his arms and legs.
"A person who has a second chance at life and is demonstrating to us that he is going to make it through is demonstrating to us, can't show that to us, because of his immigration status and because of money," said a tearful Cornelio.
She said due to media coverage, the hospital has since extended the deadline six more days.
Good Samaritan declined direct comment due to privacy regulations but issued a statement to the media.
It reads: "Banner Health recognizes that the situation involving Mr. Jesus Cornelio, his wife Evelyn and their family is challenging. Our focus remains on insuring the best options for the ongoing care of Mr. Cornelio. Without the family's consent we are unable to discuss this matter further due to privacy regulations. We are hopeful that Mrs. Cornelio will further consider the care options for her husband that were presented to her."
Jesus, who came to the U.S. legally ten years ago just received his social security card on Saturday.
Loved ones are now trying to raise money to help pay some of his medical bills.
Lilly Romo, who teaches at an English Learning school, said Cornelio's story should serve as a call for comprehensive immigration reform.
"For him to be in this limbo, it's really, really sad," said Romo. "It's a matter of justice and humanity as well and I know people say the law is the law, I understand that, but that's because of a lack of comprehensive immigration reform."
Meanwhile, Evelyn who is expected to meet with hospital officials again on Monday, October 3rd, holds on to hope.
"They put the feeding tube in him yesterday.>
Now, in order for someone to qualify for state medicare coverage, federal immigration law requires that person to live in the country legally for five years.
The state said while its rare, hospitals have sent uninsured patients back to Mexico.