Last fall, an Iowa Supreme Court decision about the deportation of two Mexican men who were in the United States illegally caught the attention of Des Moines-based reporter David Pitt.
The ruling noted, but provided few details about, an obscure process formally known as “medical repatriation,” which allows hospitals to put patients who are living in the U.S. illegally on chartered international flights back to their home countries, often while they are still unconscious.
Pitt sought more information on the practice. In interviews with immigrants, their families, attorneys and advocates spanning several months, including some conducted in Spanish with the help of his colleague Barbara Rodriguez, Pitt was able to explain the “little-known removal system.” Pitt’s tenacity resulted in a fascinating look (in text, photos and video) at how two of the nation’s key issues — immigration and health care — are intertwined.
The story received wide play around Iowa and reaction from readers around the globe. You can catch Pitt discussing the story Wednesday on NPR’s “Tell Me More.”