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:
- Responding to rampant gang violence in Honduras, the Obama administration is considering a proposal to screen minors there to see if they can enter the U.S. on refugee or emergency humanitarian grounds and thus bypass the dangerous migration through Mexico.
- Child migrants from Central America have shared harrowing stories of their journeys through Mexico and across the border, many involving abuse. Sonia Nazario describes the hometown contexts of this group she terms “children of the drug wars.” Commentators attribute the rise in child migration primarily to misinformation about the Obama administration’s Deferred Action program, although some politicians and concerned citizens are training the conversation back on political-economic causes including the international weapons trade, crime, and poverty.
- A 2008 law meant to aid child trafficking victims structures much of the federal government’s response to the influx of child migrants, and has prevented them from being deported at the high speeds many policy makers would prefer. While President Obama aims to speed up the group’s detention and deportation, Human Rights Watch opposes the current conditions in which minors are being detained and supports alternatives to mass detention. The Times editorial board warns against hasty removal procedures and Julia Preston reports prevalent asylum claims that should not be overlooked. (Disparate voices weigh in at the “Room for Debate” discussion of the crisis.)
- President Obama requested $3.7 billion from Congress to reinforce the Border Patrol and handle the cases of child migrants on U.S. soil, prompting Republicans and Senate Democrats to draw up their own plans with different figures. This leaves Congress – yet again – “at an impasse” over how to address a southern-border crisis.
- After 11 years of living in the U.S. without papers, undocumented activist leader Jose Antonio Vargas was briefly detained by the Border Patrol in South Texas before being released, according to agents, because he had no prior criminal record.
- Columnist Ross Douthat suggests an open border would be a “sincere” approach to the child migration crisis, whereas pushing for deportations while picking and choosing some youth to protect is not.
- Obama asked the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to do more to stem child migration, but they countered that the U.S. cannot deny responsibility for the crisis while American demand for drugs fans regional instability.
- Anti-immigrant protestors routed the transfer of 140 migrant detainees from overcrowded Texas detention centers to a Southern California Border Patrol station.
- Some towns, purporting to fight in the name of their tax money, are arguing against housing migrant children, while relief workers on the border settle in to help. Local groups demonstrated around the country on July 18 to oppose settling child migrants in their towns, like this Syracuse group.
- The New York City Council is expected to approve two immigrant-friendly measures: 1) municipal ID cards that undocumented immigrants can use for proof of residence, library cards, rental applications, and more, and 2) an earmark to provide lawyers to all immigrants facing deportation.
- After Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) declared immigration reform dead, the president implied that he will seek to enact immigration reforms using executive actions.
- Mexican journalists in exile comprise one example of a group that has increasingly sought asylum in the U.S. from Mexico’s drug-related violence. Mexico is now second behind China in total asylum petitions, though only 1.4 percent of Mexican applicants compared to 42 percent of those from China are accepted.
- An appeals court ruling struck down Arizona’s attempt to selectively deny driver’s licenses to immigrant youth enrolled in the Deferred Action program.
- Video: For those living near the border, interior checkpoints make up a large part of the infrastructure and imagery of “border security.”
- A South Carolina sheriff known for his high deportation record was indicted for accepting bribes from a well-known local restaurateur to free undocumented detainees from his county jail.
- Readers criticized an op-ed by Sheldon Adelson, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates for addressing only “talented” immigrants, overlooking the humanitarian side of immigration reform, and perhaps promoting a new form of colonialism.
- In a move that worries migrant advocates, Texas Governor Rick Perry may grant arrest power to the National Guard members he plans to deploy on the Texas-Mexico border in August. Previously, the National Guard has only occupied a supportive role on the border, because it lacks the immigration-specific civil rights training and oversight mechanisms many deem necessary to avoid rights violations.
- Changes in the policies of big banks will soon make it prohibitively expensive for immigrants to send money back to their countries of origin, which will deeply affect households and the national economy in Mexico.
- The town of Farmers Branch, Texas has muted its extremism on immigration after its attempt to require renters to provide proof of legal status was conclusively denied by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Israeli immigration authorities arrested hundreds of African refugees who, protesting their indefinite detention in Israel’s Holot detention center, had hiked to a strip of UN-controlled territory along the border with Egypt and demanded that the UN take responsibility for their refugee claims from the Israeli government. The 779 people apprehended face up to three months in prison if they are found to have “violated the rules” at Holot. 972 reported on the resulting loss of hope in UN intervention.
- On June 30, Italian naval officers discovered the bodies of 30 migrants and rescued 566 others from an overcrowded fishing boat that had attempted to reach Italy from North Africa.
- A UK jury found that medical neglect at the Harmondsworth detention center contributed to the death of a U.S. detainee who died from an aortic rupture due to high blood pressure.
- The election of a brazen neo-Nazi to local government in Dortmund, Germany has “shocked and divided residents,” with the two sides of a recent riot positioning one another as “foreigners” and “Nazis.”
Kristiansen, Maria and Aziz Sheikh. “The Health of Low-Income Migrant Workers in Gulf Cooperation Council Countries.” Health and Human Rights (July 22, 2014).
Barrett, Jenny and Nando Sigona. “Review essay: The Citizen and the other: New directions in research on the migration and citizenship nexus.” Migration Studies 2014: 1-9.
Submission guidelines for Harvard-based journal Health and Human Rights
Binational Policy Forum on Migration and Global Health: October 6, 2014, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Prepared by Rachel Stonecipher.
- Since October, more than 47,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended on the U.S.-Mexico border, particularly in Arizona and regions of South Texas that have not seen such high immigration in over a decade. (The New York Times Editorial Board provides one of the best overviews of the crisis to date, as well as some suggestions.)
- A recent UNHCR report address some of the reasons for the rise, including gang influences and rumors of immigration permits for youth. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson declared “a level-four condition of readiness” in the Rio Grande Valley and President Obama responded by forming a special task group under FEMA and an initiative to provide child immigrants with lawyers.
- Volunteers with groups such as the Phoenix Restoration Project have struggled to aid women and children “dumped” at bus stations without food, water, or means to contact family members, although there are reports of attempted remedies.
- A recent study finds that undocumented youth, known as the “Dreamers,” are becoming increasingly disenchanted with political parties in the US.
- Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan instructed public schools not to deny enrollment to children of undocumented immigrants, reminding districts that current practices may violate federal law.
- A recent New York Times editorial discusses inattention to complaints regarding Border Patrol agents’ abusive or threatening behavior.
- Lawmakers in California have proposed a bill to include health care coverage for undocumented immigrants, closing a gap created by the Affordable Care Act.
- A 12-year-old girl, Noemi Álvarez Quillay, committed suicide in a children’s shelter on the border after she was picked up by police in Juárez on her second attempt to travel, alone but in the company of smugglers, the long journey from Nicaragua to her parents in the Bronx.
- Twelve people were arrested April 28 in a protest at the White House against deportations.
- On April 30, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. protested deportations by projecting a 60-by-90-foot video onto the side of the union’s headquarters in Washington.
- New Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said comprehensive immigration reform would be necessary to end unjust deportations and keep families together.
- Government records show that two-thirds of the people deported under the Obama administration had committed only minor offenses, contrary to the president’s claim that Immigration and Customs Enforcement prioritizes removing serious criminals (more commentary here and here). Rather than simply deporting them, the administration has chosen to file formal charges of “illegal entry” in 90 percent of cases against people without any previous criminal record, which threatens those caught returning illegally with prison time. However, over the course of Obama’s tenure since 2009, new deportation cases brought by his administration have decreased, albeit not at a rate pleasing to immigrant advocates.
- The New York Times Editorial Board is calling on President Obama to turn his attention away from immigration legislation and finally take executive action to halt deportations of non-criminal immigrants, a recourse the board says is inevitable.