By Lilo Blank
A health care environment already rife with navigational challenges for immigrant communities likely just became much more complicated and more dangerous even after planned US Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE) court-ordered arrests and deportations this past Sunday, July 14, in 10 major U.S. cities never really materialized.
News articles from New Jersey to California detail immigrant communities on high alert, with many members of those communities fearing to go out in public. As the LA Times reports, whether this self-induced quarantining is a “one-day shift” or whether it will continue remains to be seen, but it is likely one will further harm immigrant populations, particularly Latinx and Hispanic communities. The planned (though largely uneventful ICE raids) are authorized by the Immigration and Nationality Act, which was amended in 1996 to include the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, including section 287(g).
Section 287(g) authorizes ICE to collaborate with state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law during daily activities. Section 287(g) is active policy in 21 states and largely operates under the Jail Enforcement Model (JEM), which instructs authorities to hold individuals in local detention centers while deportation is processed. In the 21 states that comply with section 287(g), ICE removal processes may be further expedited through cooperation with local agencies. According to U.S. federal code USC §1231, the removal process spans a 90 day period, beginning with order of arrest, followed by arrest, and detention which may be extended if necessary documents are withstanding. Families arrested together through these raids will be held in detention centers located in Texas and Pennsylvania.
Looking specifically at 287(g), a 2015 study by researchers at Wake Forest University, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Public Health Law Research Program, analyzed the effects of section 287(g) implementation on prenatal care access among Hispanic and Latina women. Scott Rhodes’s and Mark Hall’s individual-level analysis revealed that Hispanic/Latina mothers sought prenatal care later and were underserved when compared with non-Hispanic/Latina mothers due to profound mistrust of health services. This lead to avoidance of care and negative health outcomes for both mothers and their family members. A second study, by Wang, et.al, focusing on the impact of 287(g) on mental health outcomes in Latinx communities identified worse self-reported mental health and increased emotional distress due to the enforcement of local immigration policies.
Immigrant populations are already vulnerable because of lack of bilingual and bicultural services, low health literacy, limited knowledge of health services as well as legal rights and access to public transportation. A lack of English fluency, cultural differences in definitions of disease and care, changing legal and residential status, poverty, a lack of insurance because of residency and income requirements compound as a disincentive to access preventive care, leading to more serious conditions and acute care among the Hispanic/ Latinx community.
There’s a relatively robust body of evidence that indicates that ICE raids have potentially serious long-term health consequences for detainees, and findings overwhelmingly indicate that widespread targeting of immigrants through ICE raids may have chilling immediate effects for Hispanic/Latinx communities’ health outcomes as well as for years to come.
Lilo Blank is the summer communications intern for the Temple University Center for Public Health Law Research. She is a student at University of Rochester.