Current issues impacting immigrant health:
Expand Health Coverage for Children was introduced by Representative D. Rogers & Senator DiDomenico (HD2615/SD1167)Currently, low-income immigrant children who are not otherwise eligible for MassHealth can access only very limited health coverage, which leaves them without adequate access to many services, including prescription drugs, mental health services, durable medical equipment, dental services, and emergency care. An Act to ensure equitable health coverage for children would expand MassHealth coverage to low-income children whose only barrier to accessing comprehensive coverage is their immigration status. Other states, including California, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, and New York have already enacted this policy.
On October 10, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officially published the "public charge" regulatory proposal that would significantly expand the list of public benefits that could pose barriers to immigrants' ability to obtain permanent residence via family or employment channels and prevent many from switching between non-immigrant statuses. These proposed regulations must go through a 60-day public comment period before being finalized by the administration (for this proposal, the comment period ended on December 10th, 2018). Once finalized, we expect that implementation may be delayed due to lawsuits challenging the new rule. Over 219,000 comments were submitted on this proposal as part of the Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) Campaign, which we support. (PIF has also created a helpful document “How to Talk About Public Charge with Immigrants and Their Families” that can be found here)
The DACA program was established by President Obama in 2012 and allows hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants to live, work, and study in the US. Despite the administration's many efforts to end the DACA program, it is still alive. Since the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear DACA cases this term, we expect that DACA renewals will be processed until at least 2019.
If you or someone you know has DACA expiring in 2019 (or already expired), please renew as soon as possible! Please refer to our partner, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Agency Coalition for more details at this link. Haz click aquí para más información esencial en español para los 'Soñadores'.
TPS is a humanitarian designation assigned to people who cannot safely return to their home countries because of armed conflicts, natural disasters, epidemics, or other serious conditions. A country must be designated for TPS first, and then eligible nationals from that location have a limited amount of time to apply for the status. This designation allows people to work and receive benefits in the US. The current administration has sought to end TPS for a variety of countries, leading to several lawsuits.
Please refer to our partner, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Agency Coalition for more details at this link
While Congress battles over immigration, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions did everything in his power to create unbearable burdens on undocumented immigrants in general and asylum seekers in particular. Sessions focused on dismantling and remodeling the wealth of policies, procedures, and memos that delineate the specifics about how the government carries out immigration enforcement.Without fanfare, Sessions managed to implement harsher guidelines for children appearing in immigration court, limit the ability of immigration attorneys to seek continuances, curtail immigrants’ ability to transfer their case to a court closer to where they are living, and pack the immigration court benches with former ICE attorneys. Even though it actually caused more backlog, Sessions pulled immigration judges off their regular dockets and sent them to the southern border to decide the asylum claims of detained immigrants. Not content to leave asylum law in the hands of actual judges, Sessions also liberally utilized a provision in our immigration laws that allows him to refer immigration cases to himself. So far, his decisions in those cases have restricted judges’ ability to pause deportation proceedings, and gutted protections for victims of domestic and gang violence..
The outcry over the zero-tolerance policy which led to families being torn apart at the border so parents could be detained and prosecuted led to President Trump issuing an executive order ostensibly halting it. While the order appears to put a stop to a heinous policy, it marks the beginning of another battle which is just as worrisome. Not only is the administration asking to detain families, but there is still concern over the health and whereabouts of children already separated from their parents.The disorganized implementation and dehumanization of the zero tolerance policy has exacerbated the health risks to immigrants who cross the border. A report released by the Human Rights Watch on June 20 details the risks to health in detention facilities, and this disturbing record of health care in detention facilities does not bode well for the safety of children the administration wants to detain. Our partners are working to reunite families in Massachusetts. The Brazilian Worker Center recently helped reunite a mother with her son. We applaud all efforts to quickly and efficiently bring children back to their parents.
The Trump administration is working to add a question about citizenship status to the 2020 Census. We believe this will undermine the accuracy of the census because immigrants (both with and without documentation) might refuse to fill out the form, thereby under-counting these populations. This would then affect many decisions regarding the allocation of resources. Our partners at Community Catalyst recently sent out an action alert on the census question which eloquently expresses the potential impacts of adding a question on citizenship. Thank you to Senior State Advocacy Manager Alberto González for providing this plan of action:The proposal to add the citizenship question goes directly against the vital need to address the census’ historical undercounting of underserved communities. Adding this question discourages participation and threatens the accuracy of the count. The census, conducted every 10 years, provides data in determining fair political representation, directs the allocation of key resources to states, localities, and families, and helps businesses decide where to build and grow. The citizenship question has important implications on how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds for critical safety net programs are appropriated and delivered to states, including funding for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In FY2015, states received approximately $589.7 billion from 16 large federal financial assistance programs, with the allocations based on data from the 2010 Census.
In early 2017, medical providers and community organizations began reporting that immigrant patients were avoiding or delaying health care services due to fears of intensified immigration enforcement. Since that time, the federal government’s threatening rhetoric and actions toward immigrants – both perceived and actual – have further ratcheted up fear in our communities.