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:
- 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.
- The number of migrants entering South Texas has spiked recently, including an increasing number from gang-ridden Central American countries who hope to seek asylum.
- New America Media profiles the negative psychological effects on children of detaining and deporting their parents.
- Seeking to cut the federal budget, Congress may reduce the number of beds funded in immigrant detention centers, a maneuver that would have happened sooner had Congress not set the very minimums for immigration arrests that were required to fill those beds (and the pockets of private prison contractors).
- Major cities including Los Angeles have called on the Department of Homeland Security to designate Filipino immigrants with Temporary Protected Status in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
- Showing partial transcendence beyond immigrant families’ fears that health care enrollment would threaten their immigration status, ACA enrollment surged among Latino Californians in the month before the deadline.
- After over three months in detention, U.S. immigration officials have released the young gay man whose impending deportation to Ethiopia would have made him vulnerable to antigay discrimination.
- Significant gains made by the far-right National Party in France leave its leader, Marine Le Pen, negotiating the line between a new image and old racisms.
- An Italian MP slammed Italy’s treatment of migrants after a young Gambian man who appeared ill upon arriving at a Sicilian reception center died without being transferred to a hospital.
- The Sri Lankan Ministry of Health plans to conduct compulsory health assessments on all applicants for resident visas, which will screen for TB, malaria, and HIV/AIDS “after counseling.” It is unclear when and if the results of the test would lead to treatment or, conversely, expulsion from the country.
- In Malaysia, immigration officials routinely send asylum-seeking new mothers to detention centers after they present at the hospital for labor and delivery, including in at least one case separating a mother from her baby.
- The immigration spokesperson for Norway’s Progress Party, one of the country’s two major political parties, stated its opposition to health clinics that treat undocumented migrants.
- The death of Jamaican immigrant Christine Case in a Serco-operated UK detention center, followed by an eight-hour delay before the information reached her relatives, caused fellow inmates to reflect that “it’s not dignified to die in detention.”
- Stakeholders within the Council of Australian Governments are increasingly supportive of health reforms to provide asylum seekers and refugees with better state-sponsored health care coverage.
- Malta has opened up a $1.6-million “citizenship for cash” program at which billionaires from Russia, China, and many Middle Eastern countries have already jumped.
“Borderland,” a new series on Al Jazeera America, follows six Americans as they retrace the steps of migrants who died while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The show juxtaposes reality-show tactics with the sobering presence of its host, the real-life chief medical examiner of Pima County (where the highest concentration of migrant deaths has occurred since 1999).
Along the lines of Al Jazeera, NPR’s groundbreaking new app Borderland allows users to “play” 12 stories that describe how the border developed it current character and how it feels to be there.
Australia’s SBS World News conducted an interview with former child immigrant detainee Bashir Yousifi, accessible here on SoundCloud.
Watch the Transcultural Psychiatry Blog at McGill University for video presentations on migrant health issues. Recently, Cécile Rousseau of the Montreal Children’s Hospital spoke on the topic of refugee advocacy and Eric Jarvis on the Cultural Consultation Service.
Master’s Program: Click link for details on the Dual Degree Program in Immigration Studies between Barcelona, Spain and Liège, Belgium (students graduate with Master’s Degree in Sociology and Master’s Degree in Immigration Management).
Webinar: On April 22, the Dream Resource Center of the Healthy California Research Project will hold a live webinar on the #Health4All campaign with the title “Undocumented and Uninsured.” RSVP at the Facebook page and download the report here.
Prepared by Rachel Stonecipher.
- In its periodic review of U.S. compliance with the ICCPR, the UN Human Rights Committee called on the federal government to facilitate access to health care, especially reproductive care, among undocumented immigrants.
- An immigrant rights coalition is calling for a congressional investigation of inhumane detention practices at Georgia’s Stewart and Irwin county detention facilities, following a 2012 ACLU report.
- Hundreds of immigrant detainees at the Joe Corley Detention Center in Conroe, Texas launched a hunger strike on March 18, one of several recent strikes (e.g. Northwest Detention Center) to protest federal deportation practices.
- A heartbreaking and important group of maps allows for comparison of the militarized borders around the world with the highest death tolls.
- In a harsh new crackdown, the Obama administration plans to forcibly remove undocumented immigrants from Medicare’s rolls and explicitly require lawful presence in the country to enroll. Advocates charged that the problem of “fraud” lies more with health care providers than this population.
- A Border Patrol agent shot and killed a man he said had struck him in the face with a rock. The agency claims that rock-throwing incidents increased 70 percent from 2011 to 2012, an issue that has become the center of discussions around the agency’s use of deadly force. Read more…
Anthropology Afflicting the Comfortable: A Review of Seth Holmes’s “Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies” – Rachel Stonecipher
Having cut my teeth in anthropology while living in the state of Texas, I am accustomed to trying to explain what, exactly, this discipline is. At Thanksgiving, distant family members ask me whether I have anything interesting to tell them about the dinosaurs. When I correct them and confess that I neither dig up artifacts (certainly not T-Rex) nor analyze crime scenes, but rather practice “cultural” anthropology, I watch their shoulders sink and eyes wander away.
Seth Holmes’ book Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies is here to change that, and in the best of directions. In a tight 200 pages, Holmes lays out a call to action for social scientists, practicing physicians, and average readers to identify and combat the structural violence perpetrated against migrant farmworkers. By accompanying his companions as they migrate, work, and seek health care, Holmes sheds light on the “ethnicity-citizenship hierarchy” that shapes the health outcomes of indigenous Triqui migrant workers on a farm in the Skagit Valley of Washington state. His goal is to perform a “critical and reflexively embodied anthropology” that will “confront the ways in which certain classes of people come to be written off or deemed less human” (40-44). The idea of reflexive embodiment is to think about one’s own ways of sensing the world – such as feeling pain, love, or success – in critical comparison to how others sensorially experience. Holmes is on a trail parallel to the recent ethnographic movement, led by Sarah Willen, to interrogate the social inequality (re)produced when undocumented migrants come to embody their abject status. However, as I argue below, his approach is more akin to discourse analysis than Willen’s “critical phenomenology,” though it would be strengthened by more of the latter. Read more…
- House Republicans will soon release their proposals for immigration reform, which are rumored to support legalizing up to 6.5 million undocumented residents.
- State Senator Ricardo Lara of California has proposed a state version of the Affordable Care Act to insure undocumented immigrants.
- An Indian diplomat was arrested in New York for violating U.S. labor and wage laws by forcing long hours for low pay upon a domestic employee, abuses that are in many ways enabled by U.S. diplomatic practice and immigration law.
- ThinkProgress asks why government websites often use inaccurate Spanish.
- Immigrant advocates in Arizona issued subpoenas for all communications sent in the creation of Arizona’s 2009 anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, containing references to race. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled the documents could be released but has not set a date for turning them over. Read more…
Saturday night was something no one in Israel had ever seen before. It was supposed to be a small demonstration – a quiet march of several hundred Israeli activists and African asylum seekers, coming on the heels of two Marches for Freedom earlier in the week, to protest a new amendment to Israel’s Anti-Infiltration Act. Legislated after the High Court scrapped an earlier amendment, the new version authorizes the automatic detention of asylum seekers for up to one year in an ostensibly “open” detention facility, including asylum seekers already living freely in the country. Since the earlier marches were intercepted and suppressed by immigration authorities, initially it didn’t seem that Saturday’s march would get much (if any) media attention. But from the second it began, it was clear to all present that this time was different.
More than 2,000 asylum seekers, all in danger of immediate and permanent imprisonment following the passage of the new amendment, marched in the streets of south and central Tel Aviv. The asylum seekers, who had likely seen pictures or heard stories of their friends’ desert marches, were in high gear and bursting with energy. They started running through the streets, chanting just two slogans over and over again: “No more prison!” and “we want freedom!” Read more…