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TCO’s bibliography of public health research that considers immigration legal status

21 Oct

The fate of immigration reform legislation this year remains uncertain (See below for more information).  What is certain, however, is that immigration policy, in its current and future forms, will always have a tremendous impact on the rights, resources, and safety, and, ultimately, the health of immigrants in the United States.  Public health professionals and immigrants rights activists will have to make critical assessments of how existing and proposed policies may protect or harm the health of our nation’s immigrants. Knowledge is needed for these efforts.  However, there is very little information about how immigration policies affect public health.

The Curious Ostrich’s Immigration-to-Health Policy Framework lays out the many ways in which policies may impact immigrant communities.  We now offer our readers the Undocu-Bibliography, a collection of articles in the public health literature that consider the social environment faced by undocumented individuals – from access to health care to stigma and stress. The bibliography was compiled through searches on Pubmed, a free database of biomedical research run by the United States National Library of Medicine.  We ran queries for articles on undocumented individuals that explicitly consider immigration legal status and how it affects well-being. This means that this bibliography focuses on studies that have conducted some form of analysis to assess the connections between immigration legal status and health.  Studies of undocumented individuals that gave only brief mention to the factors that impact lives of undocumented peoples were not included.

Stack of booksThe Undocu-Bibliography reflects the current focus of public health research on undocumented individuals: the majority of articles focus on access to health care issues. While an important factor in health, it is but a small contributor to the collection of factors that can affect people’s health. Worth reading are articles highlighted in yellow that provide a deeper analysis of social and political factors that play a large role in the health of undocumented people.

This living, working, evolving document will include a compilation of academic public health studies that consider undocumentedness.  Our goal is to create a resource that is useful for researchers and advocates. In the long term, we hope to create a record of the important research in this area and support further work in this area. We encourage readers to send us suggested additions to this bibliography.  If you are interested in learning more about where we found these articles and how we selected them, please check out our methods.  If you need assistance viewing and using this bibliography, please contact us at   

News update: Immigrant rights activists rally Oct 5th

Oct. 5th March for Immigrant Dignity and Justice

Action on immigration reform may happen yet!  Immigrant activists all over the country rallied on Saturday, October 5th in 90 events at cities across the nation to demand legislation this year.  The biggest event took place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the iconic site of so many important civil rights struggles.  The National Park Service, technically on furlough because of the shut-down, opened up the Mall in the name of First Amendment rights to allow thousands of marchers to take the public space and demand “respect for our hard work and for the many contributions we make to the nation’s culture, economy, communities, and faith.” Similar marchers and rallies took place from Fresno, CA to the Twin Cities.  

While action is stalled at the National level, California has been leading the way in passing state-level pro-immigration legislation. The New York Times Editorial page has hailed this series of laws as a model for states to enact positive legislation in the context of federal inaction.  Among the bills signed this month by Gov. Jerry Brown, was a bill for drivers licenses for all in California and the TRUST Act, which would prevent cooperation with ICE in some circumstances.


Reasons to March, Reasons to Run

1 May

By Gardenia Casillas, Maria-Elena Young, and Daniel Madrigal

Joaquin Luna came to the US as an infant.  In high school he began applying to college with a dream of becoming an architect or civil engineer. In his application he is confronted with many questions: Are you a US citizen? No. A Resident? No. Social Security number? None. The pressure to support his family through an education and not being able to afford it are overwhelming. At 18 he takes his own life.

José Antonio Elena Rodríguez walks along the US-Mexico border in Nogales, Mexico. At the same time local US Border Patrol agents are chasing two drug dealers. In the chaos, the agents fire several shots towards the border. Six bullets tear through his body, leaving him dead.

Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, a pregnant 17-year old pruned vineyards in Lodi, CA. One particularly hot day, the sun is too much. She loses consciousness into the arms of her fiancée who works with her. The job did not provide basic safety protections including drinking water, shade, or training on how to deal with heat. She dies of heat stroke.

As public health professionals our goal is to keep people healthy and we often believe that everyone has the right to be healthy – that neither a person’s race, gender, nor socioeconomic status should be a predisposition to good health. There are many factors that prevent this ideal from being attained. Sometimes, laws and policies are the factors that prevent good health. US immigration policy is one example of a factor that creates an underclass of people with fewer rights, fewer resources, and less safety. Joaquin, Jose and Maria are victims of US immigration policy.

On a daily basis, immigration policy shapes the social and political environments in which immigrants and their families live. Yet, as the public debate over immigration continues, rarely do we hear discussion of the enormous impact of immigration policy on the health of immigrants.  Policies influence the circumstances of immigrant’s lives, specifically their rights, resources, and safety.  Take a minute to answer the following questions for yourself:

> Can immigrants access appropriate and affordable health care services?
> Are there protections for the rights of immigrant workers to ensure fair wages and safe workplaces?
> Are immigrant children able to attend schools and universities?
> Do immigrants feel respected and safe in their communities?

All of these questions are decided by specific federal, state, and local policies that expand or limit the rights and resources that determine the opportunities for immigrants and their families, as well as their overall safety in this nation as they pursue those opportunities.  When protective factors – such as access to health and educational services – align, immigrants will experience greater health and well-being. The lack of any or all three of these, such as limited access to employment and educational opportunities, stress and fear due to discrimination and anti-immigrant legislation, or vulnerability to violence, result in significant health risks.

Immigration and Health Diagram_6On April 17th, 2013, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 was officially introduced in the United States Senate.  This bill, if passed, would significantly change our current immigration policy context.  It has the potential to offer a pathway, albeit a long one, to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US.  However, it also introduces harsh enforcement measures, such as increased militarization of the US-Mexico border and mandatory implementation of an electronic employment verification system.  The National Immigrant Law Center provides an excellent overview and analysis on their website.

Immigration policy is health policy, and those interested in working to create healthy and strong communities should pay attention. Given the potential positive and negative impacts of the proposed immigration bill, this is the time for public health professionals to be active in the policy process, making critical assessments of how existing and proposed policies may protect or harm the health of our nation’s immigrants!

Creating just policies that provide a pathway to citizenship will provide immigrants with rights, resources, and safety. It means that undocumented individuals and their family members will be able to live without being afraid that their immigration status will backfire and that they will be deported. It means that undocumented students no longer have to hide in the shadows, it means that farm workers will be able to bargain wages sitting as equals at the negotiation table, it means that youth and community members will be able to stand up against toxic hazards.

Fortunately, the Bay Area is a hub of activity with many passionate individuals fighting for a more equal system. We encourage you to stand in solidarity with immigrants is to finally address the systemic exclusion. First, on Wednesday May 1st, there will be a large parade winding through Oakland. It will start at Fruitvale BART Station at 3:30pm.. The second event will be a 5k Run/Walk for Migrant Justice put on by 67 Sueños, a youth led organization out of Oakland. The event will take place May 4th at 11AM at Lake Merritt’s at the Pergola. For more details check out

If you think the system is unfair, unjust, and unhealthy, come out to support the movement for equity. Let your voice be heard!

Republicans submit faux-DREAM Act proposal, the Plight of Domestic Workers, and the History of US Immigration Laws

1 Dec
Senators Jon Kyl and Kay Bailey Hutchison (Getty Images)

Senators Jon Kyl and Kay Bailey Hutchison (Getty Images)

Post-presidential election paths to immigration reform are emerging

In the presidential election Mr.Obama won the Latino and Asian vote by a large margin. Post-election analysis has suggested that Mr. Romney’s hard line approach to immigration was a major factor for the gap. He was never able to present a convincing argument to these constituencies and maintain his “self-deportation” strategy. There now appears to be consensus between the two major political parties that immigration reform should be a priority. Democrats may feel like they have a mandate, while Republicans understand they won’t be able to win elections without receiving more of the Latino and Asian vote.

Republicans are pushing forward two immigration measures, the ACHIEVE ACT and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Bill. The ACHIEVE Act was introduced by Jon Kyl of Arizona and Kay Bailey Hutchison and would create a new visa for undocumented youth. The ACHIEVE act requires that applicants arrive before the age of 14, instead of age 16 as specified in the DREAM act. The visa holders would also be prohibited from federal student loans or any other kind of public benefits. Another bill the Republicans are pushing is the STEM Bill which would create visas for advanced degree graduates. These visas would be taken from another program that promotes immigration from low-immigration countries. There will likely be many months of wrangling between Republicans and Democrats before we see the new immigration reforms. These policies continue to offer minimal relief, and would end up causing many more problems in the long term.

Immigration status and affects domestic workers’ pay

A new report on pay and working conditions from the National Domestic Workers Alliance has found that undocumented domestic workers are worse off than citizen domestic workers. Undocumented workers on average receive 20% less pay, are more likely to be required to do strenuous work, more likely to be injured on the job, and more likely to work while injured. The current immigration policies weaken worker protections and create situations across the country where immigration status is exploited by employers.

23 moments of immigrant policy in the United States
ABC News and Univision have created summary of 23 pieces of legislation that have shaped the US’s current immigration policy, starting with the Naturalization Act of 1790. The article is a glimpse into the complicated and shameful history of US immigration law.

Boycott to Mi Pueblo and ICE’s Silent Raid, Immigration at the Presidential Debate, First Wave of Deferred Action Applicants Approved , 10/8-10/19

20 Oct

Oakland Immigrant Rights Activists to Boycott Mi Pueblo Foods

On Saturday immigrant rights activists will be demonstrating outside of grocery store chain Mi Pueblo. The chain has become the target of ICE’s “silent raid,” where employee immigration records will be audited. The chain has said that they will be dismissing employee’s that do not have valid work documents. This will likely result in the dismissal of many long standing employees. Recognizing the impact this will have on the immigrant communities that frequent the 3,000 employee, 21 store-chain, Saturday’s protest aims to drum up attention for economic harm that will impact immigrant communities that host Mi Pueblo stores.

Click here for a flier to the picket on Saturday in front of Mi Pueblo in Oakland

Presidential Debate Speaks on Immigration

President Obama and Governor Romney both had a chance to share their views on immigration at Tuesday’s presidential debate. While self-deportation Romney has tempered his remarks as he pivots to the center, he still presents the anti-immigrant candidate. Obama rightly pointed out that Romney’s immigration advisor has been Kris Kobach, the author of SB1070, and the nation should be concerned, Romney accurately replied that Obama has little room to comment on immigration when he has failed to enact immigration reform. Neither one is talking about 400,000 people who are deported every year; it seems they have  come to an understanding on deportation policy. Obama referred to those being deported as gangbangers, insinuating that these are people causing trouble, and that this country would be better off without them, further criminalizing immigrant communities. This is the big problem, on one sideThe big problem with the presidential race is that the only option are a man with a terrible record, and his challenger who promises to be even more cruel.

First Wave of Deferred Action Appicants Approved

4,591 undocumented youth who have submitted applications to receive a work permit have been processed. In addition to the lengthy application and $450 application fee, youth have had to a biometrics appointment. 180,000 applications have been submitted so far and almost 2,000 are going to be sent letters of “Intent to Reject,” those who receive these letters will have a period of time where they can provide missing documents, or fix other gaps in their applications. The Pew Hispanic center has estimated that 1.7 million will be eligible, meaning there are still 1.5 million youth who could apply to this program.

NY Times Disapproves of TRUST Act Veto, LA Police Chief to ignore some detainers, Jesus Navarro gets a kidney 10/1-10/12

13 Oct
New York Times editorial rejects veto 
Using the same logic that migrant justice activists used to support the TRUST Act, the NYTimes editorial disapproved of Governor Brown’s decision to vet the act. The NY Times explained that the TRUST Act was a much needed step to ameliorate relations between immigrant communities and police. A relationship that has been fractured by federal immigration policies such as S-COMM, E-verify, and 287(g). The Times notes that the safety and rights of the immigrant community were ignored with his veto.Chief of police for LA Charlie Beck
City of Los Angeles police chief to stop honoring some immigrantion detainers
Following on the heels of Governor Brown’s veto of the TRUST Act, Charlie Beck the Chief of Police of the largest city in California has issued a statement that immigration detainers will not be honored for low level offenses. Chief Beck knows the fear created by S-COMM and how that drives the community away from the police. His dept. will now release those who have an immigration detainer who have been arrested for offenses  such as illegal vending or driving without a license. This statement is an attempt to improve community relations and is expected to affect 400 people every year.Jesus Navarro undergoes a kidney transplant at long last
Earlier this year, there was controversy at UCSF over the denied kidney transplant of undocumented immigrant Jesus Navarro. After an outcry over the denial, and a 100,000 signature petition on, Jesus and UCSF came to an agreement where he would be eligible for the transplant. On September 27th Jesus received a transplant, finally freeing him from the dialysis machine he had been tethered to for the past 7 years. His story is an important reminder of the struggle for access to basic health care  for undocumented people.Culture, Art and Resistance: Migration Now is a new website with a collection of art from dedicated and talented members of the migrant justice movement

Univision anchor Jorge ramos holds President Obama accountable for immigration reform failures, sums it up on the Colbert Report

SB1070 Racial profiling goes into effect in AZ, Presidential candidates visit Univision, Study on Latino Stereotypes, 9/17-9/24

26 Sep
Phoenix SB1070 Protest

Photo by: Ana Ramirez

Protests hit the streets as SB1070’s racial profiling provision moves forward

In Phoenix, AZ hundreds marched on Saturday in protest of the beginning of SB1070’s “show me your papers” provision. The injunction blocking this provision was recently lifted by a US District Court. The provision requires police to ask about legal status of people they stop and has many worried that it will lead to widespread racial profiling. Coverage on Democracy Now acknowledges the lengthy history of  “Brown Fear” and resistance in Arizona. Although the newly enacted state law will undoubtedly affect the civil liberties of Latinos in the state, it has also provoked a massive community organizing effort.

The protest in Phoenix is one of many across the country of undocumented activists who refuse to remain in the shadows and refuse to be silent. USA Today has taken note of the increasing boldness and fearless of young undocumented activists in particular. No longer content to wait for the executive and legislative branches to fulfill promises of comprehensive immigration reform, young people are fully committed to perhap the most prominent civil rights issues of our times.

Presidential Nominees appear on Univision

The Latino vote has been extensively examined in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election. This week, both candidates presented their cases for presidency at the University of Miami to Univision, the Latino media giant. A noticeably tan Romney spoke first on Wednesday when he continued to backpedal from the extremist remarks he made during the Republican primaries. His tone was softer than the Romney of a few months ago, who advocated for self-deportation, a federal Arizona style bill, and counted Kris Kobach (SB1070 architect) among his supporters. The audience was in his corner, as his campaign had orchestrated a favorable audience from Southern Florida when the networks realized that they would not be able to find enough interested college students.

Obama followed on Thursdays with a mea culpa saying that the immigration issue was his “biggest failure.” In the statement he said that he was not prepared for the flip-flopping of senator John McCain and the rest of those obstructionist Republicans.

Study about negative Latino stereotypes

A new study finds that stereotypes common in the media have an impact on public opinion of Latinos. The study by the National Hispanic Media Coalition looked at responses from participants when they heard about “undocumented” or “illegal” immigrants, and found that participants had colder feelings towards “illegal” immigrants. Further evidence of the importance of Colorlines’ Drop the I-word campaign to encourage journalists to stop referring to undocumented people as “illegal”. Also of interest, the study found that 30% of people think that the majority of Latinos are undocumented. There are 50 million Latinos in the United States, of which about 8.5 million are undocumented. Perhaps mistaken assumptions of the Latinos are behind Voter ID and anti-immigrant laws that have spread in the past few years.

ACA Denied for Deferred Action Applicants, DNC Convention, Economic Impact of Immigration Relief, 8/27- 9/3

5 Sep
Caduceus Crossed Through in front of Chicago Deferred Action Applicants

Original Photo by Nathan Weber for NY Times

Deferred Actors need not apply for health coverage through Affordable Care Act

Department of Health and Human Services made a ruling this past week that deferred action applicants would not be eligible to participate in the programs of the Affordable Care Act. Although the ACA has stated that it would be open to those who are “lawfully present,” it will exclude the 1.7 million young people who may request deferred action. The announcement comes in response to Republican criticism that deferred action would cost the country due to services it would provide to those with this new status. With this decision from the Dept. of Health and Human services, the Obama administration has made it clear that undocumented people, even those young people who submit form I-821D, will continue to be dealt a diminished set of rights.

Two weeks ago, in Arizona Jan Brewer issued  a more startling executive order that explicitly bans deferred action applicants from receiving drivers licenses, state id cards, and other local benefits.
Although there are many working to limit the rights of the deferred action applicants, there has been a flurry of fliers, handouts and websites to provide information for those who are considering pursing the process. Here are is a Fotonovela from the Rural Women’s Health Project describing deferred action, in Spanish and in English.

Immigration Rights at the DNC

The Democratic convention to nominate President Obama on the Democratic ticket is set to begin today. Although there were several prominent Latino speakers at the Republican National Convention, immigration as a topic was largely avoided. At the Democratic National Convention, we will likely likely hear more favorable arguments for immigration, especially from the likes of keynote speaker Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Immigrants rights groups, such as the Undocubus: No Papers, No Fear, Ride for Justice have targeted the convention as a more receptive setting to air their concerns. Here you can see a inspiring photo album of the riders.

Economic contributions of immigrants in red states are substantial

Center for American Progress has released a report examining the economic role of immigrants in states where there has been wide support for anti-immigrant laws. The report profiles Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Virginia and asks: What would happen if all undocumented immigrants in the respective state were deported? and What would happen if undocumented immigrants were given legal status? They conclude that deportations would lead to lost revenue and fewer jobs, whereas legalization would brings more money into the state.

Often anti-immigrant arguments are flung from a place of emotion. When the right-wing academics get involved, they usually cite economic reasons, jobs, services, they reason why immigrants are bad for the economy. CAP’s report undercuts those lines of reasoning and provides evidence that the restrictive and severe immigration and enforcement policies are what actually hurts the economy.

In comparison to the states included in CAP’s report, California’s legislature has considered a long list of pro-immigrant bills: the TRUST Act that would weaken S-COMM, drivers licenses for deferred action applicants, work permits for farmworkers, and protection for taxpaying undocumented immigrants.