Health

Health

COVID-19 and Immigration Policy

This page summarizes the Trump administration’s COVID-19 policies and their impact on immigrants. It also links to CMS policy proposals, research, and dispatches about coronavirus. As the pandemic develops, this page will be updated regularly.

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DACA Recipients are Essential Workers and Part of the Front-line Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, as Supreme Court Decision Looms

Recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have long contributed to the US labor force, economy, and communities, and several are now on the front lines combating the outbreak of COVID-19 and working to prevent the spread of the virus and to support those affected by it. This post provides estimates of the numbers of DACA recipients working in essential industries.

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Immigration Detention Should Not Be a Death Sentence

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has begun to sweep through facilities holding immigrant detainees, including detainees with underlying conditions that put them at high risk of death if exposed to the virus. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should immediately embark on an aggressive program of supervised release and alternative-to-detention (ATD) programs for those in its custody. Immigrant detention serves two main purposes, to ensure that non-citizens appear for their removal proceedings and, in rare cases, to protect the public. However, well-structured ATD programs can accomplish these goals for the overwhelming majority of detainees. As it stands, continued detention will endanger detainees, detention staff, court officials, health care providers, and the public. The administration should recognize the scale of this emergency and act now.

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$2.2 Trillion Appropriations Measure to Address COVID-19 Excludes Certain Immigrants

On March 27, 2020, Congress passed and the President signed a $2.2 trillion supplemental appropriations measure, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES, S. 3548), to provide needed assistance to a variety of sectors in the US economy, including hospitals, transportation hubs (including airlines), small businesses, families, and individuals.  Immigrants, particularly the undocumented, were largely excluded from eligibility for aid in the package.

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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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