The current presidential administration blatantly opposes immigrants coming into the United States. Whether immigrants come as legal refugees or asylum seekers, the administration has passed laws limiting the number of immigrants allowed to legally enter the country, in addition to stripping the rights of lawful immigrants already living here.
According to the administration, immigrants pose a threat to our well being. They claim immigrants will take American jobs, use our resources, and fill the U.S. with bad people. In fact, Trump has said that other countries are “not sending their best” and are “bringing their problems with them” to the U.S.
However, the opposite is true. Not only do immigrants have a positive influence on the American economy, but unnecessarily strict immigration laws can have negative results on health care. These affects reach potential citizens and current citizens.
Immigrants Are Not a Threat to Our Health
The first thing to know about immigrants in relation to health care is that they do not pose a threat to current citizens. In order to be approved to enter the country, immigrants must pass a strict vetting process.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires extensive medical exams that immigrants need to pass. This includes a three-step process:
- I-693 Medical Form Completion
- USCIS Civil Surgeon Appointment
- Immigration Physical Exam
In order to become citizens, immigrants must complete the forms and pass the strict medical exams. Any signs of serious illness result in a denial of entry to the U.S.
Of course, this is in addition to all the other steps of the vetting process, which goes much deeper than just health screening. Background checks, criminal history, family connections, and more all are part of a process that can take years and even decades of waiting to be approved — even for healthy, exemplary citizens.
So Who Is Really Suffering?
Thanks to these exams, any immigrants legally entering the country are not going to pose any risks to the health of current citizens. However, the situation gets more complicated when the government makes it increasingly impossible to even go through the process. They do so by limiting the number of immigrants allowed to enter the country in a year.
The Trump administration has been reducing the number of immigrants allowed to enter the country to historic lows. Reports by health experts indicate that such immigration laws are the true health risk — not immigrants themselves; in fact, the health of immigrants is the first to suffer, including that of young children:
A 1-year-old Syrian girl born without an eye and a seriously disfigured face was blocked, along with her family, from coming to the United States.The girl had undergone two complex operations in Spain. The family had planned to resettle in the United States, and had already undergone all required security checks and interviews. Now they will need to find another country to take them in.
Tough immigration laws and negative rhetoric on foreigners can cause such people to be perceived as a threat to the health care in America, when they are actually the ones suffering the consequences. Plus, the report also states that this mindset puts any U.S. citizens who may be perceived as an immigrant or refugee at risk of being perceived as a threat, putting their health at risk as well.
Why The Healthcare Industry Needs Immigrants
While the danger facing current and potential U.S. immigrants and refugees is real and extreme, some may choose to overlook it in favor of the people already living in the U.S. However, immigration laws restricting refugee access to the U.S. are doing more to damage the health of U.S. citizens than to protect it.
Taking the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), for example, highlights that overly strict immigration laws are based more on racism than on the health of our people. In a separate report by Healthline on the attempt to repeal DACA, they state that it would have “far-reaching effects” on U.S. public health.
For example, the simple act of removing the protection could harm the health care of the hundreds of thousands of children who were previously protected by DACA. While these children’s parents came to America as illegal immigrants, entering the country illegally is a dangerous journey that many take on as a last resort.
Additionally, Healthline reports that “the repeal will force the thousands of Dreamers who are healthcare professionals or medical students to leave the profession just as the nation is facing a serious physician shortage.” In turn, this would affect the whole face of healthcare that will impact all Americans.
Immigrants looking to enter the country are usually simply chasing the American Dream. They are either fleeing from violent or financially strenuous situations in their country. They come to the U.S. with the simple hope of making a living for themselves to provide for their families and being able to raise their children in a safe and nurturing environment.
It’s clear that while anti-immigrant politicians claim they have the interest of the American public at the core of their stance, the facts don’t align with the claim. It’s true that immigration processes are necessary, but they should have a humanitarian basis to stand on. Until then, the health of the American public and immigrants will continue to suffer.
Photo courtesy of the author
Guest Author Bio
Geo Sique is a writer from Boise, ID with a bachelor’s’ degrees in Communication and French and a background in journalism. When she’s not travelling outside Idaho, she loves rock climbing, hot springs, camping, and exploring the world around her.
Website: Georgette Siqueiros