The practice of medical repatriation, or the extrajudicial deportation of seriously ill immigrants directly by hospitals, was largely unknown and under-theorized until recently. In the past few years, a number of scholars have focused on the legal and ethical issues raised by this practice. However, medical repatriation has most often been analyzed in isolation as an example of an anomalous unlawful or unethical action undertaken by hospitals, rather than as a predictable, if horrifying, extension of a legal regime that treats migrant labor as disposable.
In contrast, this Article contextualizes the private deportation of migrant workers by hospitals within broader themes of globalization, undocumented labor migration, and increasing privatization of immigration enforcement functions. In contrasting the humanitarian aspects of the United States' approach to protecting victims of human trafficking, violent crimes, and domestic violence with the punitive approach taken toward migrant laborers, this Article attempts to deconstruct the widely held belief, as expressed in laws and policies, that the United States or other countries that rely on migrant workers owe nothing in return for the labor that is provided.