Border crossers' hospital bills add to Nogales debt - Tucson News Now

Border crossers' hospital bills add to Nogales debt

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NOGALES, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Nogales Fire and Ambulance responds to dozens of calls along the border each year. But they're not reimbursed for a good majority of those calls. Now, with new fencing, they're worried the number of injured immigrants might go up, leaving the city to foot the bill.

With border crossers risking their lives daily to get into the United States, Nogales Fire and Ambulance keep busy with calls for injured immigrants.

"We have a lot of illegal immigrants jumping the fence," Nogales Fire Chief Hector Robles said.

Just last year, it cost the city more than $300,000 to take injured border crossers to the hospital. The federal government reimbursed them with $47,000. The remaining quarter million dollars was put on tax payers' shoulders.

City Manager John Kissinger says in years past, they budgeted ahead of time and expect to lose out on around $250,000 a year.

"We plan accordingly so we don't become in the hole and we don't anticipate that revenue, because if you do, then you find yourself in the hole," Kissinger said. "If they're injured [and] they're in our community, we're transporting, we're providing that service and we're going to do the best to collect."

And with newer, taller fencing added to the border, firefighters worry the tab will keep growing.

"The higher the fence, the bigger the impact on ground once they hit, so there are more injuries out there," Robles said.

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

Matt: Each year, the fire department averages 200 to 250 calls on the border.

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