I spend many, many hours a week staring at my computer. It is one of the ways I learn, communicate, and plan my work at Center for Health Progress. However, it’s definitely not where I find real meaning in my role or where most change happens toward health equity. Recently, I (mostly) left my screens behind to partner with the incredible folks at Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Colorado Center on Law and Policy, and Mile High Health Alliance on a Creating Safe Spaces project. It’s a training series for health care clinic staff to understand both their rights and responsibilities in regards to immigration enforcement and to support them in identifying shifts they and their organizations can make so that their clinics are more welcoming and safer for immigrants—and all patients.
This is critical work. The federal administration continues to pursue harmful, anti-immigrant policies, like a proposed public charge rule change, public housing rule change, and increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activity, which augment the fear and risks that immigrants face when accessing health care services. Nationally, there has been news of federal immigration officers detaining a child while seeking health care services and other worst case scenarios. Locally, our partners at Mile High Health Alliance learned that immigrant patients fear accessing health care services in case clinics would give their information to immigration officials. Clinics are also seeing an increase in missed and cancelled appointments among immigrant patients. The Creating Safe Spaces project addressed the roles of health care professionals and organizations to support and protect the safety of immigrant patients.
If you’re a health care provider or work at a hospital or clinic, watch this webinar and check out these resources to learn more about what you can do. Regardless of who you are, where you work or live, we all should also know these basics to support immigrant health and safety in our state:
- ICE cannot detain someone without a signed and accurate judicial warrant. If you are in a situation where ICE is trying to intervene without one, know what to look for and how to respond.
- The Colorado Rapid Response Network is a hotline anyone can call to report ICE activity. If you suspect ICE activity anywhere in your community, immediately call them at 844-864-8341.
Creating Safe Spaces is one of many ways Center for Health Progress is expanding our focus on immigrant health issues. We have a long-term policy goal to create health coverage options for immigrants, especially those whose documentation status currently limits their access. To work toward that goal, we are also cultivating the leadership of those most directly impacted by this issue through community organizing in Fort Morgan. Right now, this team is leading a local campaign, Nuestra Comunidad, Nuestra Salud, so immigrants in Morgan County can be fully served by a health care system that is responsive to their needs. We are also making connections with health care organizations to become public champions of this work.
As our efforts to build momentum and support for a coverage campaign move forward, we will continue to respond to the needs of the moment and current climate. We all have a role to play in moving toward a Colorado in which everyone can thrive and access the services they need without fear for their safety.