(PHOENIX) -- Arizona lawmakers held a public hearing Monday about a proposed bill that would force hospitals in the state to ask patients about their citizenship status.
Under the measure's provisions, hospital staff must inquire if a person is in the country legally before admitting them for non-emergency care. If it turns out that the individual is an illegal immigrant, the hospital would be required to notify federal immigration officers about their status.
In emergency situations, hospitals would be allowed to treat illegal immigrants first and ask questions later. Still, they ultimately have to inform immigration officials should the patient be in the country illegally.
Any hospital refusing to comply with the law, should it be passed, could be sued by the state.
Opponents of Senate Bill 1045 say the measure will scare people into not seeking medical attention if they know they can be deported.
George Pauk, a retired doctor with an organization called Physician for a National Health program, added, "This is making us into a police state that will try to catch people when they are sick."
Arizona is currently awaiting the results of a lawsuit filed by the federal government against the state's proposed legislation that requires police to inquire about citizenship status during the course of a normal arrest.
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