Tag Archives: SB1070

The Curious Ostrich Immigration Policy-to-Health Framework

20 Feb

At the Curious Ostrich we provide updates and analysis on immigration news – providing health professionals and immigrant rights activists a “heads up” on immigration, xenophobia, and health. Looking at current events and national policy through a health perspective, we see that our immigration laws are powerful determinants of health for immigrants in the United States.  In the past, few public health researchers have focused on the ways immigration policies affect the rights, opportunities, and health of immigrants. But the public health field is increasingly taking notice that immigration policy is health policy. We believe that we will be more likely to achieve justice for immigrants and healthier communities when public health professionals understand (and address) the social and policy contexts that impact immigrant communities.

Last year, the American Public Health Association issued a policy statement supporting an end to the Secure Communities enforcement program.  The American Journal of Public Health published a recent study calling for more research on how state-level immigration policies, specifically, SB 1070, affect public health.  A growing number of researchers are trying to document and understand how policies and the experience of being undocumented affects health, such as immigrants’ access to health care (Stevens et al., 2010; Vargas Bustamante et al., 2011) and the impact of family separation, legal vulnerability, and stress in undocumented families (Arbona et al., 2010; Brabeck and Xu, 2010).

This is an important starting point!  Yet, the immediate experiences of immigrants and their families are the result of the full context of their lives in the United States, as well as our nation’s often anti-immigrant history, culture, politics, and laws.  Public health research and action must reflect this full picture.  

We have created a framework to illustrate the web of factors related to laws and policies that have an impact on the health of immigrants.

Immigration and Health Diagram_6

1) Our laws and policies are rooted in historical, political and cultural contexts.  The US has implemented immigration policies since it founding, including deportation and exclusionary policies such as the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. Each wave of anti-immigrant policy has been driven by racist and xenophobic narratives – immigrants viewed as a threat or as undeserving. The legacies of these cultural narratives and harmful policies continue to impact how immigrants are treated both in our political and popular debates and narratives.

2) These laws and policies influence the circumstances of immigrant’s lives, specifically their rights, resources, and safety.  Can immigrants access appropriate and affordable health care services? Do immigrant workers receive fair wages and are they safe in their 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.  These three factors are interconnected, as rights can create safety and access to resources or safety and resources can support individuals to exercise their rights.

3) These three factors are also inseparable, because the positive presence of all three are needed to promote positive physical, mental and community health outcomes.
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.

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. Our hope is that this diagram provides a framework for considering how various immigration policies may actually impact immigrant communities.  For example, the debate on “comprehensive immigration reform” is just heating up. It is heartening that there is growing support for a path to citizenship, but the proposals currently being developed would make the process lengthy and burdensome and continue existing bans on receiving public benefits. The proposals would also further codify border militarization and enforcement programs. Public health has an important role to play in these debates – ensuring that the true community costs are considered as immigration policy decisions move forward.

When we look at this diagram, we also see many opportunities for action! People working in all areas of public health can incorporate an immigrants rights perspective into their work. In the coming months, we will provide information and discussion on some of the main health issue areas in this diagram. And we will share ideas and opportunities for health and immigration activists alike to participate in this work.

Stay tuned to the Curious Ostrich for up-to-date health research and analysis.


2013: New opportunities for healthy immigration reform?

9 Jan

The Curious Ostrich has big plans for 2013! We are now moving to a monthly format, providing readers with in-depth analysis and commentary on the public health impact of immigration policies and national conversations around immigration. As always, our mission is to bring attention to the ways immigration policies affect health and to provide information and resources for health and immigration advocates alike. Want regular updates on immigration issues? Like our Facebook page!TCO cover

Over the course of 2012, a number of policies and events across the country significantly, and often negatively, affected the health of immigrants and their communities. Deportations continued at an all time high, separating families and at great cost to our economy. Due to programs such as Secure Communities 1.6 million people were deported during President Obama’s first term. Our nation’s growing immigration enforcement system now receives more funding than all other federal enforcement agencies combined. This focus on enforcement and a militarized border increased border violence and resulted in many deaths, some perpetrated  by the US Border Patrol itself.

Immigrants also continue to be denied many basic rights. For example, while the Affordable Care Act (ACA) goes a long way in expanding access to health insurance, undocumented immigrants and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals-approved individuals are barred from new health insurance programs. At the state level, although the Supreme Court knocked down many of the provisions in Arizona’s immigration bill SB 1070,  the “paper’s please” provision will move forward.  Other states continue to follow Arizona’s lead in anti-immigrant legislation.

The impact of xenophobia and anti-immigrant politicking is not limited to immigrant communities. For example, in 2012 the Violence Against Women Act, a traditionally non-controversial, bi-partisan bill, failed to be reauthorized for the first time in its history. This was in part due to Republican supposed opposition to protections for immigrant women.

In 2012, we also saw promising policies and inspiring activism by undocumented immigrants, particularly youth. Influenced by ongoing activism by DREAMers, President Obama granted deferred action to “childhood arrivals” (DACA), creating the largest opening in many years for undocumented individuals to gain work permission and protection from deportation. While not a long-term solution, DACA created opportunities for many young immigrants.

Exciting grassroots mobilizations also helped raise the profile of immigrant issues and pushed forward a more progressive policy agenda. The Caravan for Peace turned attention to the human impact of border violence and the United State’s role in drug war violence; undocumented youth are using art and creativity to assert their rights; DREAMers sat-in at Obama campaign offices; the Undocubus shared stories at the Democratic National Convention; and the Campaign for the American Dream team walked from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness about immigration policy.

Moving into 2013

Building on this momentum, 2013 brings new opportunities for making immigration policy more just and protecting immigrant communities. President Obama’s re-election turned new attention to the power of communities of color in our political system and we now have the most diverse Congress in US history. Polling suggests that the public and elected officials are ready to consider immigration reform. President Obama has repeatedly stated that comprehensive immigration reform will be a priority early on in his second administration. However, for too long, political debates about immigration have focused on controlling immigration through the criminalization and stereotyping of immigrants.  Therefore, we hope to see these policy discussions and decisions acknowledge the importance of immigrants to our society and economy and affirm that all people, including immigrants and regardless of their immigration status, have rights as residents of this nation.  Specific policies that we would like to see from the 113th congress include:

      • Create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the US.  The increasing numbers of young immigrants applying for deferred action demonstrates that creating a process for undocumented immigrants to apply for papers is not only relatively politically non-controversial, but is feasible and has tremendous positive impacts. This is a start, but temporary status for a small portion of undocumented immigrants is not enough.  There are still roughly 11 million individuals who lack papers and a path to citizenship. This is an injustice, not only to these individuals, but to their families and communities and the nation as a whole.
      • Reduce deportations and keep families together.  Enforcement programs and deportations needlessly tear people from their jobs, communities and families, with devastating emotional and economic impacts.  A simple fix would be to end programs such as Secure Communities.  In addition, policies are needed to end the fear that deportations have caused by creating clear delineations between local police officers and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
      • Create accountability over and reform the detention system. The unregulated and unhealthy network of privatized detention centers must be reformed and regulated. This should include expanding accountability and oversight for current detention centers.  The all-historic-high number of detention beds in centers and county jails creates a gross profit motive and should be reduced.
      • End the militarization of the border.  Border fence and patrolling policies throw money into militarization, rather than the true safety of people in the United States.  There should be an end to financial support for the border fence, reduction in funding for the Border Patrol, and increased oversight over the Border Patrol, including the training and background of officers and their use of surveillance technology.
      • Increase access to education and social services for all immigrants.  Immigrants should be positively included in public policies.  This is a matter of both fairness and of effective crafting of public policies, as economic, social service and health policies ultimately have an impact on immigrant communities, such as the Affordable Care Act and the Violence Against Women Act.

The connection to health

At The Curious Ostrich, we believe that all of these policies and their resulting challenges and opportunities for immigrants are public health issues. Immigration policies, and related social and economic policies, directly impact the health of immigrants in a number of ways – from reduced access to essential services and resources to the  fear and stress that result from discrimination, criminalization and deportation. Over the course of 2013, we will continue to explore these links between immigration policies and health:

      • Access to health care— Many people are barred or have limited access to health insurance and health care services due to their immigration status. Access to regular primary care is important in preventing many diseases (e.g. diabetes), while limited emergency care services results in unnecessary deaths.
      • Diminished rights and protections— Fear of deportation diminishes the rights of undocumented individuals by shaping their decisions about accessing services such as education or police protection. For instance, many undocumented workers are victims of wage theft, yet they do not have legal recourse without risking deportation.
      • Access to resources— Diminished rights lead to reduced access to resources to lead a healthy life. For example, undocumented immigrants may choose not to access public resources, such as education or social services, because they believe they are not eligible or they are afraid of coming into contact with government officials.
      • Discrimination— There is widespread anti-immigrant sentiment embedded in our national policy and media discourses, and anti-immigrant groups continue to advocate effectively for policies that devalue and dehumanize immigrants because of their lack of legal standing. From conservative politicians campaigning on deportation policies, to widespread discriminatory commentary in the news, there is a strong national narrative that a lack of papers justifies less-than-humane treatment.

There are feasible policy solutions that can reduce the risks to and protect the health of immigrant communities. There are dynamic and mobilized advocates who will continue to fight for the rights of immigrants.  Public health advocates can play a critical role.  Therefore, in 2013, our hope is to see not a continuation of the short-term and enforcement-focused policies often associated with “comprehensive” immigration reform, but rather the promotion of healthy immigration reform.

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.

6/19-6/25 SCOTUS Oks “papers please”; California attempts to block SComm; South Asian immigrants face barriers to financial stability; DREAMers respond

25 Jun

Source: ACLU

Supreme Court Ruling on Arizona’s SB1070
The Supreme Court has upheld the provision of Arizona’s SB1070 that requires law enforcement to check papers of “suspected” individuals.  The case against SB1070 was based solely on issues of federal preemption, not discrimination.  Therefore, there are still opportunities to challenge the law because, as ACLU of Arizona Executive Director Alessandra Soler stated: “It will be impossible to enforce this law without engaging in racial profiling.” The other provisions, such as the one that made it a crime to work without legal documentation, were struck down. For more information, see the ACLU’s inforgraphic.  Immigrant rights groups are moving forward with challenging the law as anti-immigrant groups are hailing the ruling a victory.  On Sunday, in anticipation of the ruling, activists rallied outside of Maricopa County Sherriff Joe Apraio’s notorious tent city to bring attention to the human rights abuses that have take place under his leadership.  This is likely the first of many actions that will continue to speak out against this discriminatory and harmful law.

California attempts to block SComm with Trust Act
This week the New York Times’ editorial page voiced support for California’s Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools (Trust) Act.  Currently making its way through the state legislature, the bill would require that local police release undocumented individuals once their bond is posted or their sentencing is completed. Instead of holding these individuals for ICE.  The Trust Act is another promising attempt by a state to block Secure Communities.  It has garnered support from local law enforcement, in addition to immigration rights groups, labor unions and religious groups.

Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian and Vietnamese communities lack access to financial institutions
Family financial stability is important for good health, both because it reduces stressors from financial problems and provides families with their own safety-net.  Having access to banks and other financial institutions allows families to establish financial assets and financial stability.  However, a recent report by the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) found that members of California’s Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian and Vietnamese communities faced significant barriers in accessing these institutions. Specifically, linguistic isolation makes it difficult for many immigrants to set up their own bank accounts or access financial services. In addition, Hmong and Cambodian Californians have some of the highest rates of poverty in the state.

Activist groups respond to President Obama’s Deferred Action policy
As President Obama went on to address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed about immigration, DREAM activists around the country took stock of his new policy.  While there is widespread acknowledgement that this is a step in the right direction and could bring relief to many young people, many are also expressing their hesitation and scepticism about what the policy may actually look like once it is implemented.  In particular, there is concern that it is all too reminiscent of last August’s prosecutorial discretion memo that has resulted in only 2% of deportation cases being halted.  The week was filled with ongoing reports of young immigrants who are currently facing deportation and questions of how this new policy will affect them.  Behrouz Saba of New America Media called the policy “a patently miserable substitute” for comprehensive reform.

3/28-4/3 – Pushed to the brink: Why the United States is not the “land of the free”

3 Apr

Mexican Immigrants Face Substandard Housing, NY Times, 3-29-2011

‘Silent raids’ squeeze undocumented workers, Wall Street Journal, 3-29-2011

Confusion over policy on married gay immigrants, NY Times, 3-29-2011

The discrimination that undocumented workers are facing, especially in this rough economy, is having a rippling effect on multiple levels. A recent New York Times article reported on a housing study that revealed that Mexican immigrants in New York are experiencing some of the toughest housing conditions: “About 43 percent of all Mexican immigrant households are overcrowded” and “35 percent of Mexican households spend more than half their income on rent.” Sadly, the results of this study comes as no surprise since undocumented workers aren’t even given the right to have decent-paying jobs that they deserve just as much as any human being. Instead, undocumented immigrants are being fired left and right as the result of employment audits, also termed “silent raids,” that have been happening under the Obama administration. Left with few to no options, these workers are forced into lower-paying jobs that potentially exploit them even more because of their undocumented status. Another article in the New York Times discussed how undocumented gay immigrants face yet another double-standard, which at this point should be a quadruple-standard: “While it is routine for American citizens in heterosexual couples to obtain green cards for their foreign spouses, the Defense of Marriage Act has barred such status for immigrants in same-sex marriages.”

As a country that prides itself on being “the land of the free,” it is shameful that our policies serve to make our newest arrivals economically and legally vulnerable while only protecting the interests/opportunities of the privileged. How is this an equal opportunity and free country? Instead of trying to deport all undocumented immigrants and in the process destroying lives and spending enormous amounts of money, we should establish a path – and a right – to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who are trying to have a better life for themselves and their children. Shouldn’t we all have this basic right? I think so.

In Other News

Deported 4-yr old citizen Emily Ruiz finally comes home, Colorlines, 3-30-2011

4 year old Emily Ruiz is reunited with her parents after wrongfully being deported to Guatemala.

Arizona SB 1070 copycats fall flat in most state legislatures, Colorlines, 3-31-2011

COLORLINES’ Seth Wessler describes the status of legislations like Arizona’s SB 1070’s in states across the country such as Mississippi and Georgia. While as many as 14 states have attempted to pass what Wessler terms “show me your papers” bills, almost all have or are expected to fail. He attributes this achievement partly to community mobilization and business lobbyists.

3/14-3/20: Virgil Peck suggests shooting immigrants like feral pigs.

20 Mar

Virgil Peck hurts Kansas with feral swine remark, Kansas City Star, 3-16-2011

This past week a state representative in Kansas suggested shooting immigrants, as you would a feral pig, would be a good way to deal with the country’s immigration “problem.” This the statement is the latest in a xenophobic chorus of politicians who’s main intent is to paint immigrants as boogiemen. When statements that compare immigrants with beasts there are many listening whose lose a common commonality with immigrants. If you can look at people who are on the street corners waiting for work, and not see what you have in common, it makes it all the easier to strip this group of people of their rights. Mr. Peck claims that his joke is harmless; the reality is that people in this country are scared about the economy and their livelihoods, and “jokes” like these do have a profound affect. It allow the blame to be shifted from the wealthiest in the country who are hoarding the resources to the poorest and darkest among us.’

Unfortunately, our debate around immigration issues is based on fear, and it is affecting our nation. Our country’s newest arrivals are rapidly having their civil liberties stripped in the name of  fear, BROWN-FEAR. These reports continue, everyday there is a news story about a policy that causes stressful environments and reduces economic opportunities. The sad truth is that these hate-based policies do little to address the fundamental reasons why immigrants come to the US.

Other news

Oklahoma passes 1070 like bills Oklahoma passes some 1070-like bills the brown fear spreads.

Many of the worst AZ laws don’s pass Many of the worst bills in the AZ state legislature didnt pass, they’re not completely crazy after all (link), or perhaps the legislators from the great state realized two key issues 1) the economy is sustained on the backs of immigrants, both documented and undocumented and 2) Over 30% of the state is made up of Latinos and it’ll be hard to get re-elected on a platform of brown-hate.

Utah’s middle of the road approach UT’s middle of the road approach… a 1070-like bill, but also a guest worker program, because, well let’s face it, Mormons need labor too.