Welcome to AccessDenied: A Conversation on Unauthorized Im/migration and Health! The aim of this blog is to challenge readers and contributors to re-think the political common sense that denies migrants and immigrants access to health care and impedes their capacity to enjoy the social determinants of good health. We also consider how the increased movement of people across national borders affects the health of receiving communities.
We ask our readers and contributors to consider some morally and politically tough questions:
- Although Border Patrol apprehensions have lessened in recent years, the deaths of migrants in the Arizona desert due to dehydration and heat exhaustion have remained high. Last fiscal year there were 463 deaths, a number rivaled only by the 2005 fiscal year, in which there were three times as many apprehensions. Advocates and experts agree that as “border security” is tightened, migrants take increasingly remote and dangerous routes into the country. The New York Times obtained a map of the deaths from Tucson-based humanitarian organization Humane Borders and photographs of migrants’ belongings, currently being held along with 744 sets of unidentified remains at the Pima County medical examiner’s office.
- The Senate immigration bill leaves intact considerable delays and obstacles for immigrants’ access to health care, particularly to Medicaid. Undocumented immigrants on the proposed path to citizenship will have to wait an additional five years to become eligible for Medicaid (if they qualify), following the end of the 10-year “Registered Provisional Immigrant” status. Read more…
- The Associated Press published the results of its review of “medical repatriation” cases, concluding that a lack of regulations on hospitals regarding the care of non-citizens has led to 600 deportations in the last five years of patients, including those unconscious or in comas, whom the hospitals deemed “stabilized” enough to receive the rest of their care in their home countries.
- While the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times have banned the use of the phrase “illegal immigrant” to describe persons, the New York Times only suggested that its writers use alternatives when possible. Read more…
- Immigration advocates successfully pressured the AP into outlawing the word “illegal” when used to describe persons, prompting the New York Times to more seriously reconsider the term.
- The growing political clout of the United Farmworkers Union was in evidence April 11 when the Union struck a deal with crop growers on visas and pay scales for foreign farmworkers. Read more…
- Yesterday the Associated Press made the bold and surprising announcement that the AP stylebook will no longer sanction the term “illegal immigrant.” According to the AP’s new standards, “‘illegal’ should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally, and not a person.”
- This announcement garnered swift responses — for instance, from David Weigel at Slate.com, who reflected on the role of activists in shifting discourse (including, above all, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas), and from New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan – who had asserted as late as October that the term is “clear and accurate.” Sullivan stuck to her guns even after interviewing veteran NYT journalist Julia Preston, who expressed dissatisfaction with Sullivan’s position. Read more…
- According to a Pew Research Center Survey, the majority of people in the United States believe that there should be a way for undocumented immigrants to remain the United States. The findings also point to divided opinions about whether to grant undocumented immigrants citizenship or legal permanent residency.
- Responding to a recent story about immigrants being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asked federal immigration officials to provide her more information about immigrants being held in solitary confinement at federal facilities. Read more…
Seton Hall University School of Law
Any effort at comprehensive immigration reform must also address the health care needs of millions of immigrants with long-standing ties to this country. Absent such reform, immigrants needing ongoing medical care will remain vulnerable to the unethical practice of de facto deportation by hospitals, which is fueled by a lack of government reimbursement or oversight of international discharges.
In fact, a recent study from the Center for Social Justice and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest cites hundreds of cases of forced or coerced medical deportations. Acting alone or in concert with private transportation companies, as my colleagues and I report, hospitals are functioning as unauthorized immigration officers and engaging in de facto deportation of seriously ill or injured immigrant patients directly from their hospital beds to their native countries.
- In a New York Times letter to the editor, Wayne Cornelius argued that no further border enforcement will play a role in deterring potential migrants to the U.S., aiming to nullify claims that “border security” is required prior to immigration reform. A NYT op-ed by Michael Dear addressed the harms to both people and the environment already being caused by the border wall. Read more…