Immigration raids may harm community health

"Even if we can't change the immigration policies or prevent raids from happening, people should know that they can access [government] services," says Daniel Kruger. (Credit: @ICEgov/Twitter)

Research suggests that immigration raids could have considerable health effects in the surrounding community, further marginalizing people and preventing them from seeking health-care services.

The new study is based on a survey that was in progress when an immigration raid took place in November 2013 in Washtenaw County in southeastern Michigan.

The survey found that people, including those born in the US, were less likely to seek government services after the raid and less likely to engage with their community.

The study also shows a decline of self-rated health among community members, with 55 percent of respondents rating their health as excellent or very good before the raid. But 51 percent said their health was excellent or very good after the raid.

“People might not realize it, but these type of law enforcement events affect our entire community on a daily basis. Many of the folks involved in these raids are our family and friends, fellow students and coworkers, and our children go to school alongside their children,” says William Lopez, a doctoral student at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and one of the researchers on the project.

[Becoming citizens may lead immigrants to integrate]

Daniel Kruger, lead researcher of the study, says, “Even if we can’t change the immigration policies or prevent raids from happening, people should know that they can access these services. If they know how the system works and what would and would not put them at risk, hopefully people would be more likely to use those services.”

He adds, “One thing that agencies can do is to explicitly tell people in their marketing materials that using their services will not put them at risk of deportation.”

The study appears in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health.

The US Housing and Urban Development -Sustainable Communities Project, Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research Partnership, Michigan Department of Community Health – Health Equity Capacity Building Project, and Washtenaw County Public Health funded the survey, called Encuesta Buenos Vecinos.

William Lopez received funding from Rackham Graduate School and the Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture, and Health (CRECH) at the University of Michigan.

Source: University of Michigan