Local enforcement of federal immigration laws affects immigrant Hispanics' healthcare

December 18, 2014

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Dec. 18, 2014 - State and local enforcement of federal immigration laws can have an adverse impact on the use of health care services by immigrant Hispanics, according to a North Carolina-based study by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center researchers.

The study, published in the Dec. 18 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, analyzed both birth records and information collected in focus groups and individual interviews.

"Our findings suggest that immigration enforcement policies negatively affect the health of immigrant Hispanics, including those with and without documentation," said Scott D. Rhodes, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study.

The statistical focus of the study was the use of prenatal care by Hispanic women shortly before and after implementation of Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which authorizes U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement to enter into agreements with state and local agencies to enforce federal immigration laws during their regular law-enforcement activities. The researchers compared birth records using North Carolina vital records data from the nine months preceding implementation of 287(g) and nine to 18 months after implementation in seven North Carolina counties that signed on to the program and seven counties that did not.

The researchers found that rates of late and inadequate prenatal care among Hispanic mothers increased in the counties that implemented 287(g) while those rates in the non-participating counties declined, but the difference was not statistically significant. In examining all mothers in North Carolina, however, the researchers found that late and inadequate prenatal care increased significantly among Hispanic mothers compared to non-Hispanic mothers across the state after implementation of 287(g).

To complement the statistical analysis, the study team conducted three focus groups and nine individual interviews with Hispanic residents of three counties that implemented 287(g) and three focus groups and eight individual interviews in three counties that did not.

Rhodes said that the participants in those sessions reported knowing that enforcement of immigration laws was increasing but that many of them did not know the details about specific programs such as 287(g) or have a clear understanding of their rights under the law.

"Overall, participants reported fearing immigration enforcement policies and avoiding or delaying utilization of health services, thus endangering their own health and that of their families," Rhodes said.

The researchers said that initiatives to educate immigrant Hispanics about their rights and the availability of services would help to increase their utilization of health care services, and suggested that public officials weigh public health considerations when deciding whether and to what extent federal immigration laws should be enforced on the state and local level.
-end-
Support for the study was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Public Health Law Research program.

Co-authors of the study are Lilli Mann, M.P.H., Eunyoung Song, Ph.D., Mary Claire O'Brien, M.D., Beth A. Reboussin, Ph.D., Jorge Alonzo, J.D., Christina J. Sun, Ph.D., and Mario Downs, of Wake Forest Baptist; Mark A. Hall, J.D., of Wake Forest University School of Law; Omar Martinez, J.D., M.P.H., of Columbia University; Florence M. Simán, M.P.H., of El Pueblo Inc.; and Emma Lawlor, B.A., of the University of Arizona.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.