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Expanding Vulnerability: Health Care, Well-Being, and Arizona’s Immigration Policies – Julie Armin & Robin Reineke

July 11, 2010 1 comment

Julie Armin & Robin Reineke
University of Arizona

Arizona has seen a systematic attack on immigrants over the past year.  Several anti-immigrant measures have passed through the legislature in recent months, and more are in the planning stages. Through the everyday enforcement of these policies, the borders of the United States are re-inscribed on bodies and within communities, creating “legal” and “illegal” categories of people who have differential access to state resources and services. Nicholas De Genova argues that ‘illegality’ “is an erasure of legal personhood” that is designed not to physically exclude individuals, but “to socially include them under imposed conditions of enforced and protracted vulnerability.”[1] These constructed categories can expand, compromising the well-being of those who seem to fall outside their initial reach, as friends, co-workers, teachers, doctors, and community members are implicated. Read more…

Two Reforms, One Day, One Broad Message: March 21st, 2010 and the Struggles for Immigration and Health Care Reform – Ruth Gomberg-Muñoz

March 31, 2010 2 comments

Ruth Gomberg-Muñoz
University of Illinois-Chicago

On March 21st, 2010, I was one of more than two hundred thousand people who traveled to Washington D.C. to demand comprehensive immigration reform. According to one news report, this was the largest turnout for a political rally since the election of Barack Obama. Afterward, I heard one immigrant rights activist lament that the passage of the health care bill later the same day overshadowed media coverage of the immigrant rights march. There is certainly truth in his complaint. But there is also another, perhaps more productive, way to understand the relationship of simultaneous struggles for health care and immigration reform.

As I marched along D.C. streets that sunny afternoon in the company of fellow immigrant rights supporters, I passed many activists who––judging by their shirts and signs––were in Washington to advocate for health care reform. Read more…

Chutes and Ladders: Comprehensive Immigration Reform and Health Care Access for Undocumented Workers – Elizabeth Cartwright

January 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Elizabeth Cartwright
Idaho State University

Immigration problems and issues of access to health care are both manifestations of an increasingly crowded world with dwindling natural resources.  Given the desperation and violence that exist in so many places around the globe, immigration from poorer countries will continue—“legal” or not[i].  Health care, as a resource, will proportionally take up more and more of our national budgets and will be more and more out of reach for those who need it most. The short-term view is that those who are sick/poor are a financial drain and it’s a profit-driven system, so exclude.  A long-term view could have a very different answer.  What is needed for the long-term health, creativity and societal viability of the U.S. is an inclusive approach that maximizes human potential regardless of social and legal status.

For the last ten years I’ve worked with many immigrants from Mexico who now live here in Southeast Idaho[ii]. They come to Idaho for a better life. They have settled down in small agricultural communities, and they have worked hard in the fields, packing plants and small businesses of this region. They are now getting college educations for themselves and for their families. Some have become naturalized citizens; some are still moving through that incredibly slow process.  They go back to Mexico to visit, less often now than in the past, but they still go. Most now say that Idaho is “home”—snow and all.

Read more…

Health Care Reform Is Intimately Linked to Immigration Reform – Peter Guarnaccia

December 1, 2009 1 comment

Peter J. Guarnaccia
Rutgers University

As a long-term advocate of universal health care, I am cautiously optimistic that current bills will make a positive difference for many. But as someone who has rapidly become more involved with transnational Mexican communities and their health issues, I am dismayed by the current refusal to include unauthorized immigrants in the health care plan.

In preparing our book, A Death Retold: Jesica Santillan, the Bungled Transplant, and Paradoxes of Medical Citizenship (2006), Keith Wailoo, Julie Livingston and I organized two conferences to discuss issues of organ transplantation, Latinos in the U.S. health care system, and rights to medical care. I came to this project amazed that Jesica Santillan, an 18-year-old undocumented Mexican immigrant who had come to the U.S. explicitly to try to get a heart-lung transplant, had managed to receive such a procedure. Read more…

“You Lie!”: Going Beyond the Obama-Wilson Debate – Josiah Heyman

December 1, 2009 Leave a comment

Josiah Heyman
University of Texas at El Paso

Representative Joe Wilson famously interrupted President Obama’s health care speech to Congress by shouting “you lie,” just after the President had said that proposed legislation would not provide access to health insurance for undocumented immigrants.  Factually, Wilson was wrong.  The legislation indeed restricts the undocumented from receiving its benefits.  But the central assumption of the debate itself is wrong.  Obama claimed that a rigid line had been drawn; Wilson that it was not rigid enough.  But on close examination the rigid line fades from sight.

In public health, our fates are connected.  The H1N1 flu is a mild reminder of this.  When there is a more severe pandemic, we will regret frightening off and making access hard for any of our biological neighbors.  To offer a different, but I hope even more persuasive angle: health care access is a matter of mutual moral obligations, a network of ties accumulated throughout society.  I know a 100-year-old woman, still in good health but needing a bit of attention.  She herself is an immigrant, a citizen and retiree after years of marginalization and hard labor.  Her caregiver is undocumented, undergoing the same life of sweat and stigma in the present day.  They owe each other their existence.  They depend on each other for their health. Read more…

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