The 2020 election, uniting control of the political branches in the Democratic party, opened up a realistic possibility of immigration reform. Reform of the immigration system is long overdue, but in pursuing such reform, Congress should cast a broad net and recognize the health policies embedded in immigration laws. Some immigration laws undermine health policies designed to improve individual and population health. For example, immigration inadmissibility and deportability laws that chill noncitizens from enrolling in health-promoting public benefits contribute to health inequities in immigrant communities that spill over into the broader population—a fact highlighted by the still-raging COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions on noncitizen eligibility for Medicaid and other public benefits contribute to inequitable access to health care. Moreover, visa restrictions for noncitizen health care professionals run counter to health policies promoting access to health care during a time of severe shortages in the health care professional workforce. It is time that health policy be incorporated into the immigration-reform debate, with Congress considering whether and how such reforms are helping to achieve health policy goals relating to improving individual and population health.
Medha D. Makhlouf & Patrick J. Glen,
Immigration Reforms as Health Policy,
St. Louis U. J. Health L. & Pol'y
Available at: https://scholarship.law.slu.edu/jhlp/vol15/iss2/5