Health

Health

Venezuelan Migration and the Border Health Crisis in Colombia and Brazil

The Venezuelan economic, political and health crisis has triggered an exodus of Venezuelans to countries throughout the region. As of early 2019, an estimated 3.4 million Venezuelans had fled to other countries in the region and beyond. The paper reports on the findings and recommendations from public health missions undertaken in the summer of 2018 to two communities that have received large numbers of Venezuelans: (1) Cúcuta, in the Colombian border state of North Santander, and; (2) Bôa Vista and Pacaraima, in the state of Roraima, Brazil. These studies included interviews with health providers and organizations engaged in the humanitarian response, secondary analysis of grey literature, and data shared by key informants. Surveillance data demonstrated increases in infectious diseases, as well as adverse maternal and neonatal health outcomes among Venezuelans in both North Santander and Roraima. The paper finds that while the Colombian and Brazilian government responses to the immediate needs of Venezuelans have been admirable, they are not sustainable. In particular, there is an urgent need for an expanded humanitarian response to the Venezuelan migrant crisis in the region, particularly to address health needs where surveillance data shows recent and rapid rises in infectious diseases, acute malnutrition, and poor maternal and neonatal health outcomes. It reports that lack of access to preventative and primary care and inadequate funding of life-saving emergency care could result in a health crisis for Venezuelans in Colombia and could impact public health more broadly if not addressed through a more comprehensive and adequately funded humanitarian response. In Brazil, there is a need to invest in integration programs to improve the health and wellbeing of Venezuelans who have fled their country, with sensitivity to the needs of receiving communities, especially those who are underserved, in order to minimize resentment from the local population. This complex and costly process, the paper concludes, will require political will and financial support from neighboring countries, and the international community at large. In the longer term, however, only a resolution of the complex health and humanitarian crisis within Venezuela itself will address these transnational threats to health in the region.

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New from IMR: Labor, Well-Being, and Immigration Enforcement
The Summer 2019 edition of the International Migration Review (IMR) is now available online and in print through paid or institutional subscription. This edition is sorted thematically into three sections. The first section examines immigrant labor and immigration policy, including...

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Border Spirituality: ‘Tu eres mi otro yo’

The 2019 Father Lydio F. Tomasi, c.s. Annual Lecture on International Migration was delivered by Msgr. Arturo J. Bañuelas, Pastor of St. Mark’s Parish in El Paso, TX on March 12, 2019 at the sixth national gathering of the Catholic Immigrant Integration Initiative in Santa Clara, California.

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Immigration Authorities Systematically Deny Medical Care for Migrants Who Speak Indigenous Languages
The death of seven year-old Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin in December of 2018 while in US Border Patrol custody has led to outrage, frustration, and a host of unanswered questions. This study — which consists of more than 1,100 post-deportation surveys with unauthorized Mexican migrants — suggests that the denial of medical attention to migrants in US custody is a widespread and systemic problem, and one that appears to affect indigenous language speakers disproportionately.

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Proposed Public Charge Rule Would Significantly Reduce Legal Admissions and Adjustment to Lawful Permanent Resident Status of Working Class Persons

On October 10, 2018, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued its long-anticipated proposed rule on inadmissibility on public charge grounds. Under the proposed rule, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers would consider receipt of cash benefits and, in a break from the past, non-cash medical, housing, and food benefits in making public charge determinations. This focuses on the potential effect of the proposed rule on two populations, undocumented immigrants and nonimmigrants that would otherwise be eligible for legal permanent resident (LPR) status based on a legally qualifying relationship to a US citizen or LPR living in their household. This CMS report analyzes how these populations in 2016 would have fared under the proposed rule. After placing the rule in historic context, the paper profiles these two populations and examines the characteristics that would mitigate in favor of and against their inadmissibility. The study offers a snapshot of these two groups based on estimates derived from the 2016 American Community Survey (ACS).

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The Role of Faith-Based Organizations in Immigrants’ Health and Entrepreneurship
This paper highlights the potential of faith-based organizations to improve the health and work outcomes of vulnerable migrants. First, the paper describes how faith-based organizations expand health care to underserved populations and play a vital role in building trust between healthcare providers and migrant communities. Next, the paper describes obstacles to migrant employment and explains how faith-based organizations are promoting migrant entrepreneurship through training, referrals, and targeted microloans, among other services. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of how the international community might support faith-based organizations’ efforts in these areas. In particular, the Global Compact on Migration should recognize faith-based organizations’ unique resources and credibility among vulnerable migrant populations. It should also emphasize the potential for productive cooperation between international organizations and faith-based organizations in the areas of migrant health care and entrepreneurship.

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