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:
- Medical and mental health experts push the Ninth Circuit Court to end Family Immigration Detention, emphasizing that detention exacerbates existing health problems and trauma and inflicts new psychological damage.
- A former federal immigration officer was charged with accepting bribes and sex from undocumented immigrants in exchange for avoiding deportation and employment documentation.
- Over 20,000 immigrant prisoners are being held at immigrant-only prisons where, in order to maximize profits, prisoners are provided with minimal, inadequate health care, resulting in premature deaths.
- Public universities in California have created the DREAM loan, a low-interest, tuition reducing loan, aimed at undocumented immigrants to make obtaining a college education more accessible.
- The Obama administration and the Department of Health and Human Services is expanding its 2009 policy allowing HIV+ immigrants to enter the country to include additional sexually transmitted infections that are no longer considered of great public health significance.
- An affordable, “healthy” housing development recently opened in Florida, emphasizing creating a safe space for immigrant farmworkers to live without pests, mold, or unsafe water.
- Many young migrant workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are becoming more susceptible to “lifestyle” diseases after living in the UAE for six years or more. Similarly, a recent study finds high prevalence of non-communicable diseases due to occupational related risk factors among Indiana migrant workers in Gulf countries.
- The International Relations and Labour Committee of the Parliament in Kathmandu seek to take actions against institutions that issue fraudulent health certificates to migrant workers, an issue that has been increasingly prevalent of late.
- Residents and volunteers of a migrant camp located in Calais, France discuss their concerns firsthand about the future surrounding the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe.
- A study finds high prevalence of non-communicable diseases due to occupational related risk factors among Indiana migrant workers in Gulf countries.
- Riots are erupting on the border between Greece and Macedonia after refugees tore down a fence built between the two countries meant to prevent them from entering.
- A U.N. report endorses the protection of migrant workers by providing them the same rights as citizens, in turn boosting the country’s economy and productivity.
- China issued a set of guidelines in order to aid children of migrant parents who work in different cities and must leave their children behind because the cities deny health care and education for them.
Prepared by Jaziel L. Ramos-Ortiz
- Researchers at the University of Michigan found that children born in the US to immigrant parents have more difficulty finding a “medical home” or stable, family-oriented primary care, than children born to US parents.
- Tyndall Air Force Base revoked its offer to open doors to undocumented immigrant and refugee children for fear of disrupting focus on military missions.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services displayed gross negligence by accidentally placing a group of immigrant children in the midst of a human trafficking ring in Marion, Ohio.
- An effort to reduce unauthorized immigration in the state of Arizona has caused more harm than good. While the population of undocumented workers dropped by 40 percent, the state’s economy has suffered greatly.
- Presidential candidate Marco Rubio has adopted a “Trump-like” stance on immigration, which directly counters his previous support for a path to citizenship for undocumented individuals, enraging voters.
- The US Department of Health and Human Services says that immigration reform is a crucial step in achieving universal health coverage, since currently undocumented individuals residing in the US are barred from enrolling in these health care insurance programs.
- The Department of Family and Protective Services in Texas is attempting to keep two immigrant family detention centers open, under the guise of licensing them as child care facilities.
- In the United Kingdom, Migrant women are being forced to choose carefully what maternity services to receive because of the fees the National Health Service is imposing upon them.
- Officials in Israel say it is the moral obligation of doctors to advise their high-risk, immigrant patients that they must undergo screening tests, especially for Hepatitis C, and make this information available in their languages.
- The Immigration Department on Manus Island is working on finding alternatives for anti-malarial drugs in response to previous negligence in anti-malarial drug prescription. Past medical staff had knowingly prescribed a drug for malaria that was known to cause mental health problems.
- Citizens of Australia and New Zealand applying to stay in the UK for longer than six months must pay the UK Immigration Health Surcharge in order to make use of the National Health Service (NHS), while previously they could access the NHS as if they were permanent residents.
- Pediatricians visiting immigration detention centers in Australia say the mental health of the children in these centers is the worst they have ever seen.
- According to research done by St. Michael’s Hospital in Canada, refugee women have higher rates of premature births than non-refugee immigrants, indicating that their experiences in their home countries are not conducive to good health.
- Turkey’s outrage with Europe’s lack of participation with the refugee influx that has the country stretched thin may cause them to open the gates and allow refugees into Europe.
Prepared by Jaziel L. Ramos-Ortiz
- According to immigrant rights advocates, unannounced deportation raids jeopardize undocumented immigrants’ mental health. These raids possibly violate federal disability law because many immigrants struggle with mental illness stemming from the trauma of escaping violence in their home countries.
- A former church in Buffalo, New York is currently transitioning into a safe haven for immigrants and refugees. It will be a center for education for these populations as well as a health clinic led by Catholic Charities of Buffalo.
- Federal officials warned a county in Kansas that their health department will lose grant funds if they continue to require clients to report their immigration or citizenship status when applying for the Women and Infant Children (WIC) benefits.
- Rather than discussing the importance of immigration reform for immigrants living in the United States, Presidential candidate Marco Rubio is addressing the topic of immigration as a “national security issue.”
- The DentaQuest Foundation is making efforts to ameliorate oral health disparities, especially in Hispanic and migrant populations. They aim to prevent cavities in 85% of all children up to age five by the year 2020.
- Lawmakers in Florida have lifted the five year waiting period for children of authorized immigrants to receive subsidized and free health services.
- In her response to President Obama’s final State of the Union address, Nikki Haley, the first minority and first female governor of South Carolina, highlighted her heritage as the daughter of Sikh Indian immigrants. She also discussed her pro-immigrant standpoint in her reply.
- Colorado residents raised concerns regarding a new facility for unaccompanied migrant children. Children are meant to spend on average 32 days in the shelter before being released to sponsor families while a decision is made about the child’s status in the country. Residents in the vicinity of the shelter are concerned about costs, resources, and safety of their families.
- A migrant health center reopens in Wyoming for agricultural workers after a name change that involved removing the word “migrant.”
- The Red Cross Reports that the Canada Border Services Agency should protect immigrant children from detention and its horrors and only detain them in extreme cases. The Red Cross provides a list of alternatives to improve these conditions such as mental health services and secure holding places outside of the jails they are being currently held in.
- Three Maritime premiers in Atlantic Canada said Monday their provinces badly need more immigrants. A former New Brunswick premier proposed his own solution: require newcomers to live in the region.
- A new policy is proposed in Israel to ease the conditions for experienced immigrant dentists to practice in the country and to promote recognition of their professional credentials. Additionally, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech therapists and dietitians can practice in Israel without academic degrees if they have come from a country in which it is also not required to earn one.
- Lawmakers in Israel work on amending policies requiring certification tests for French immigrant doctors as well as professionals in other fields who fail to get recognition for their hard earned academic degrees. With the French healthcare system being the most advanced in the world, limiting the ability of doctors to practice in Israel simply does not make sense.
- Japanese government officials are contemplating accepting immigrants to prevent a government estimated tremendous loss in population size within the next hundred years; decreasing from 126.88 million that reside there today, to about 40 million.
- Policies designed to draw in Cuban health professionals into the U.S. create complications in the health cooperation between Cuba and the United States. A travel restriction on Cuban medical professionals was enacted in order to prevent a scarcity of those in these professions in Cuba.
- With temperatures falling below 0 degrees Celsius in the Balkans, medical professionals state there is a significant increase in illness among migrants in refugee aid camps. The escape from their violent countries to refuge has resulted in a “journey of death” because of the cold.
Special Issue: The 2015 Refugee Crisis in Europe
American Ethnologist has put together a special issue of articles focused on refugees in Europe, with articles by Access Denied contributor and co-founder Heide Castañeda.
Prepared by Jaziel L. Ramos-Ortiz
- More than 500 people and families from the Fresno area enrolled for free legal and health care assistance at an event at the Mexican consulate. With the help of legal experts and attorneys, more than 80 immigrants completed either first-time applications or renewed applications for the federal “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program.
- The National debate of immigration reform has caused turmoil in the lives of over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. An estimated 4.5 million children who are U.S. citizens live with at least one undocumented parent resulting in persistent fear of their parent being arrested and deported anytime leading to a constant state of disturbance for children.
- Undocumented immigrants are being forced to resort to emergency rooms for dialysis treatment due to lack of private insurance leading to medical bills that are almost triple the cost of receiving treatment in a private medical.
- U.S. Presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders has claimed that if he is elected president, he would take action to allow undocumented immigrants who have been living in the United States for at least five years to stay in the country without the fear of deportation and is focused on keeping immigrant families together, expanding the support for refugees, and ending the economic exploitation of immigrant workers. The senator also aims to provide immigrants with financial aid, health insurance, and close loopholes that allow federal agencies to use racial and ethnic profiling at the U.S.-Mexico border.
- Recent reports have shown that S. Presidential hopeful Donald Trump appeals to white, working-class Americans who believe that immigrants are taking their jobs and negatively influencing the country. Moreover, out of the 47 percent of Republican-leaning respondents who support the deportation of undocumented immigrants and oppose accepting refugees from Syria and other Mideast conflicts, 75 percent voters are in support of Trump.
- According to Silva Mathema, a policy analyst for the Center of American Progress (CAP), out of the 11.3 million undocumented immigrants present in the U.S., many do not own a form of ID such as foreign passport, birth certificate or drivers license, which results in difficult circumstances and by providing valid identification to the individuals, communities would become safer as people will be able to identify themselves and also individuals will be ensured that those who are driving cars have passed the driving test.
- With the sudden influx of migrants and refugees in Europe, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is seeking to ensure that all European countries are adequately prepared to withstand the added pressure that has come with treating the mass inflow of immigrants by drafting a common strategy on health care for the newcomers. The strategy includes topics ranging from prompt vaccination against measles and polio to dealing with childbirth complications.
- According to Canadian Minister McCallum, the government’s promise of bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada is still intact and the government is determined to bring the refugees quickly but in the right way by ensuring security and healthcare for the refugees as well as the citizens of the Canada.
- As Canada gears up to receive the Syrian refugees who are expected to arrive over the next few months with health issues such as amputations, war injuries, chronic diseases, PTSD and depression, the Government ensures that efforts are being taken to ensure that help will be readily available for them on arrival and previously cut health services for refugees will be restored.
- Canadian Health-care professionals have volunteered their time to help care for Syrian refugees arriving to the country.
- According to the Médecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the First Aid and Reception Centre in Pozzallo, Italy does not have adequate conditions and procedures for refugees.
- European Health Commissioner has requested for urgent resources on the Greek island of Lesbos as over 650,000 migrants and refugees have reached the islands and the number is growing everyday. The island is not equipped with adequate shelter and resources and over 500 immigrants including children have died.
- The National Kapodistrian University of Athens has launched a website which will help the more than 700,000 refugees and migrants arriving in Greece stay informed about the available health services in Greece, legal advice, information on diseases, and the cost of examinations.
An NBC news story highlights a new book about undocumented youth in the United States titled “Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America.”
Prepared by Priyanka Rao
- According to recent reports, despite the push to get more people enrolled under Obamacare, 962,805 residents in New York City still remain uninsured out of which 57% of the population is foreign born. Many authorized immigrants don’t have information about signing up or don’t realize that they qualify, while undocumented immigrants are ineligible for most plans under the federal law.
- Termination of health care insurance by the Centers for Medicare and Medical Services for lack of proper immigration documentation or income status has led to over 400,000 immigrants being kicked off private insurance plans by the government following review of their eligibility status.
- The “Undocumented Americans’ Bill of Rights” has been released which calls for the acknowledgement that the undocumented immigrant community should receive equal treatment and legal status with dignity and respect as they are already living on U.S. soil and their existence cannot be viewed as “illegal” or “alien”.
- According to author Diana Gordon, Hispanic immigrants have helped Greenport, New York recover from decades of stagnation as they form the backbone of its labor-dependent tourist economy, they patronize local businesses all year and have strengthened the village’s history as a supporter of diversity.
- Recent reports show immigrants play an increasingly important role in the economy as they account for nearly 37% of New York City’s population and make up 43% of the city’s workforce, which has resulted in the generation of $257 billion in economic activity.
- According to studies from Drexel University, the inclusion of undocumented Latino immigrants in the Affordable Care Act Marketplace Exchange would prompt more primary care visits, which would help reduce costly long-term chronic care in federally funded health centers.
- In New Bedford, MA, a group of organizations have trained community health workers meet with immigrant residents to educate them on and screen for colorectal cancer.
- US Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said for the first time during a presidential debate that undocumented individuals in the country should be allowed onto the health exchanges created through “Obamacare,” which sharply contrasts her previous views on healthcare for undocumented immigrants.
- The Obama administration has urged undocumented immigrant youth to enroll in high school and college and the Education Department has warned schools against asking students about their immigration status with an attempt to normalize their experience of being undocumented immigrants.
- According to recent reports the rate of uninsured in Ohio has dropped drastically to 8.7 percent and the number of uninsured residents in Texas dropped from 19 percent to 16.3 percent in Bexar County in 2014. Undocumented immigrants continue to make up a large percentage of the uninsured groups in both locations.
- Canada’s minister of immigration, refugee and citizenship, has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada through government sponsorship by forming a subcommittee to co-ordinate the government’s efforts.
- Canada’s new Immigration minister John McCallum, who has committed to reverse the cuts on refugee health care, claims that the former government’s decision to cut refugee health care was “economically foolish” as it put pressure on taxpayers and denied refugees vital health care.
- Bangladeshi migrant women who return home after being tortured and sexually abused do not receive the necessary psychological, social and financial support as there is no national strategy or any action plan to address the reintegration of the returnee.
- Reports suggest that the influx of younger workers during the migrant surge in Europe will help to boost the economy by around 0.2% which will lead to higher growth of the European Union.
- The U.K. law states that General Practitioner services and any treatment that is deemed urgent is free for all regardless of their legal status due to which doctors are being told to register health tourists at their surgeries without checking passports or IDs as they are not expected to act as immigration officials.
- According to reports, due to procedural delays, errors and poor decisions concerning immigration casework by the people at the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, a growing number of refugees are being made to endure “prolonged uncertainty” about their immigration statuses in the UK.
- Reports suggest that due to the sudden influx of criminals and individuals who have failed the immigration systems’ tough character tests joining general asylum seeking population at the detention center in Australia, the Christmas Island riot was inevitable.
- Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of Pakistan said last week that the country is temporarily suspending a 2010 agreement with the European Union countries except Britain, which allows them to deport Pakistani citizens entering the continent illegally, citing “blatant misuse” because they often deport the Pakistani immigrants labeling them as terrorists.
- The Australian Medical Association and Victoria’s health minister have supported the Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital doctors’ and medical staffs’ decision to defy federal immigration authorities by refusing to return children in their care to detention. This has been done with an aim to stop immigration detention for children.
- Germany has been tasked with providing food, shelter and essential health care and medical services for up to 1.5 million refugees in 2015 due to which access to health care for migrants will be provided in three stages depending on the length of their status and length of their stay in order to ensure the smooth functioning of the system.
- The European Union has pledged more than $3 billion in aid to Turkey and has urged the country to keep the Syrian refugees and other immigrants in order to help get a hold of the immigrant crisis in Europe.
- With Europe’s growing immigrant crisis and Austria having over crowded asylum centers, several Syrian refugees have claimed that they are being pressured into leaving Austria for Slovakia and if they do not co-operate they are thrown out on the streets with no provisions for basic food or shelter.
- With temperatures in Germany dropping towards zero degrees, 42,000 asylum seekers were found to be sleeping in tents across the country and are pleading for authorities to find them alternative housing.
Prepared by Priyanka Rao
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to introduce a multimillion-dollar initiative called Direct Access that has been aimed to create a type of universal healthcare to improve health-care for some of the city’s low-income, uninsured immigrant population by connecting them to crucial health care services.
- A miscalculation of visas has resulted in a sudden halt in visa and green card services, sending many immigrants including highly qualified Indian and Chinese immigrants with advanced degrees, back to where they had been in slow-moving visa lines.
- The Texas Civil Rights Project, along with 25 undocumented immigrant families, appeared before a federal judge with the intention of suing the state health department, claiming the state is making it too difficult for immigrants to obtain birth certificates for their US born children.
- Similarly, lawyers for immigrant families who were denied birth certificates for U.S.-born children in Texas are seeking an emergency injunction to obtain certificates, arguing that the children’s rights to health care, travel, and schooling are being harmed by tightened identification standards.
- Luis Gutierrez is pushing to extend the Affordable Care Act to undocumented immigrants with the hope of decreasing the number of uninsured people in the country.
- With steps California has taken to provide low or no cost health coverage to undocumented immigrants in the last year, the state is ahead in its effort to extend health care to 2.6 million undocumented immigrants, which could spur other states to follow suit.
- California Governor Brown has signed legislation that will allow 170,000 undocumented children to receive full scope medical coverage by removing obstacles of re-applying or re-enrolling. By May 2016, California will become the fifth state to allow undocumented children from low-income families to enroll for wide-ranging health care.
- According to a Kaiser study, about 2.78 million Floridians lacked coverage in early 2015, which included 567,000 who would qualify for Medicaid and 384,000 undocumented immigrants.
- Volunteer doctors in the mobile Medecins du Monde unit on the island of Lesbos, are attending to thousands of refugees and migrants arriving from Turkey with aching muscles, lower body injuries and pulmonary infections; with over 350 patients a day.
- UNHCR is concerned that the lack of reception capacity in Greece where island ports are being crowded with up to 14,000 people every day is causing people to move to the Balkans on their own which could seriously threaten the relocation program agreed upon by the European Council.
- Out of the immigrants expected to migrate to Germany this year, 200,000 refugees have already arrived leading to high level of complications in the registration procedures. With winter on the horizon, many asylum seekers are experiencing high levels of frustration as they claim to have been waiting for more than 25 days to register.
- Germany’s previous estimate of 800,000 asylum seekers has now gone up to 1.5 million with hundreds of thousands of people pouring into Europe to escape conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.
- With the net immigration to Britain reaching an all time high with 330,000 people in the year to March, British Conservative interior minister and Prime Minister promise to reduce the number of immigrants as they believe that when immigration is too high, public services such as schools and hospitals experience high levels of strain along with reduction of wages and the increase in unemployment.
- After a long struggle, a 23-year-old pregnant Somali woman who was raped on the Pacific Island of Nauru, has now been granted a visa and has been brought to Australia to receive medical treatment and to carry out her wishes of having an abortion.
- According to the head of the NHS in England, the immigration rules in the UK in which foreign nurses who are earning less than £35,000 are forced to leave should be re-structured since over 3,300 NHS nurses could be forced to leave by the end of 2017.
Prepared by Priyanka Rao
- The U.S. Agency for International Development is set to direct $419 million in humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees and is now committed to spending $4.5 billion to help address conditions inside Syria and refugee camps.
- The Canadian Government is gearing up to help resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees. Reports have indicated that the refugees will receive minimum health care benefits and the government will take the responsibility of only 40 per cent of the refugees while the remaining refugees will be sponsored by private groups.
- Contra Costa County is set to launch a $1 million dollar pilot program aimed at providing health care to one–fifth of the county’s undocumented immigrants.
- Recent studies suggest that political protests by major Latin American communities and cities could be counterproductive in the long run as it could lead to potential supporters’ hesitation from getting involved, perhaps because seeing a protest in person triggers different emotions as compared to hearing about it on the news.
- Kentucky’s independent health insurance exchange has largely avoided the kinds of technical issues that led to the cancellations of authorized immigrant healthcare policies and has received 24,303 immigrants’ enrollment in Medicaid and 3,460 immigrants’ enrollments in a qualified health plan.
- The Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Carereports reasons for which over 500,000 immigrants have been denied or lack health services.
- The Director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute says that with the reduction of undocumented immigrants in the US, political leaders should now focus on policies that will encourage immigrants’ contribution to the labor market, such as providing training and English programs, and bring in foreign nationals who have a positive influence on the American economy.
- According to Rosa Aranda, a deaf undocumented immigrant living in San Diego, high levels of discrimination against deaf people in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Colombia, among others, has led to the increasing number of disabled immigrants taking asylum in the United States.
- After a long battle by the civil rights group, mentally disabled immigrants now have the right to legal representation and over 900 immigrants who were previously deported will now have the opportunity to return to the United States to contest their expulsion.
- New research published in the Journal of Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology debunks portrayals of Latinos as drug dealing, violent criminals, showing that immigrant youth have been found to be less involved in problem behavior such as violence, crime and misuse of alcohol and drugs.
- Julian Cancino, a female-to-male transgender man, was denied transition-related care and proper health care coverage, such as doctor-recommended cervical cancer screenings, blood pressure tests, chlamydia tests, cholesterol tests, and access to the diagnosis and treatment of preventable diseases because he was an undocumented immigrant.
- Several hungry and desperate refugees who were living off the land for food while fleeing their country have become severely ill and are being hospitalized due to the consumption of poisonous ‘death cap’ mushrooms.
- The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is set to distribute 70,000 dignity kits, which will include basic hygiene and healthcare items for refugee women. Mobile clinics will also be set up at strategic points with gynecologists and nurses equipped to do safe-deliveries for around 4,200 pregnant women and attempt to prevent HIV and sexually transmitted infections for 1,400 women at risk for sexual violence.
- ISIS has been warning Muslims in its “caliphate” to stay where they are, as they view the migration to Europe as a setback to their plans to expand their self-proclaimed caliphate.
- Some migrants seeking refuge from poverty and persecution feel that Germany gives special preference to people from Syria which has led to over 30 per cent of the immigrants from other places falsely claiming of being Syrian.
- “Unfortunately only when the poor enter the halls of the rich, do the rich notice that the poor exist,” said U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres while telling reporters the world waited too long to respond to the refugee crisis.
- With the growing fear of terrorism, rape, robberies and crimes, 97 per cent of residents in a small town called Gabcikovo in Slovakia have voted against the harboring of war refugees from Syria; say the refugees should be taken in by the rich Arab states in the Persian Gulf.
- Germany has provided three proposals for the integration of refugees into the German culture; the refugees must be loyal to Germany’s Constitution, they must be aware of the equality between men and women in the country and lastly they must receive the language courses provided to them with commitment. Failure to accept any of the proposals will lead to consequences such as denial of state benefits.
Prepared by Priyanka Rao