Health and safety of over one million Americans now at risk due to changes to federal immigration policy
Over the past several months, the Trump Administration has ended parts of the humanitarian immigration program known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which allowed individuals to live and work legally in the US after their countries were struck by significant natural disasters, war, or other dangerous conditions. Nicaraguans and Haitians lost their status last year, and this week the program was ended for Salvadorans–the largest group affected by this change. Then, yesterday, a federal judge ordered that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which President Trump had already moved to end, must be partially reinstated until the legal challenges are settled. In response to these actions, Center for Health Progress released the following statement:
The Trump administration’s impulsive and irresponsible approach to reducing immigration is both dangerous and ineffective. Well over one million Americans are now in a state of limbo, which has terrible consequences for their health, their family’s health, our communities’ health, and our economy’s health.
Almost all of the individuals who were protected by TPS or DACA have lived in the US for several years–perhaps decades. They are parents to hundreds of thousands of American citizens and run thousands of successful businesses that help drive our economy and enrich our communities. Evicting them from their homes and the lives they built will do irreparable damage to our country. As the New York Times reported, history shows that the result of mass deportations to economically-challenged countries, such as El Salvador, results in a spike of illegal immigration and criminal activity in the US. It also results in a ‘brain drain’ of high-achieving immigrants whose loss will be a huge blow to many industries. Most importantly, the human cost of these anti-immigrant policies is the fear, psychological stress, and physical harm suffered by our neighbors and friends.
Although the judge’s decision yesterday to temporarily, and in a limited way, reinstate the DACA program provides a small amount of relief to those living under its protections, their safety and security is precarious at best. These young people and those whose TPS status has been revoked are at significant risk of losing work permits and jobs, employer-sponsored health insurance, school enrollments, access to driver’s licenses and other critical government services, and their physical and mental well-being. Furthermore, immigrants make up 16% of our health care workforce, and many of them are personally or tangentially affected by these ill-advised policy changes. The negative impacts on our health care system and the people it serves has been and will be far-reaching.
These politically-motivated attacks on immigrants, from travel bans to posturing legislation, must stop. The irrefutable facts are that immigrants contribute far more in economic growth, tax revenue, innovation, labor, culture, and every other measure than any costs or burden to our system. The strength and resiliency of immigrant communities is the spirit our country was founded on and part of what makes America great. Immigration policy IS health policy, and at Center for Health Progress, we will continue to hold our leaders accountable for creating a country where everyone, regardless of their immigration status, has the opportunity to live a healthy life.