Ensuring access to public health services is one of the most fundamental health equity issues. Since November, public health staff have expressed increased concerns there may be a chilling effect of accessing services due to proposed immigration policies and feared repercussions.
California Health Departments have begun reporting early, anecdotal reports of clients dropping out of or not enrolling in Women and Infants with Children (WIC), CalFresh, and other programs that help ensure adequate health and nutrition.
The fear of deportation, in particular, inhibits critical, health supportive behaviors like attending medical appointments or enrolling in public services. It has also been linked to post-traumatic stress syndrome in children, low birth weights and other health conditions.
BARHII is supporting public health departments to ensure access to health-promoting services to immigrant communities. BARHII is also helping health departments promote healing to mitigate the stresses that emerge from more vocal messages of hate and exclusion.
On January 20th, over 45 Bay Area public health staff joined BARHII and the ACLU for a discussion of public health’s rights and responsibility to maintain safe space for clients. The session included opening comments from Immigrant Rights organization SIREN, who spoke about growing fear in immigrant communities and new state legislation to ensure their safety.
Since November, we’ve heard anecdotal reports that calls for deportation have reignited a fear of government. The threat to public health and safety are huge when people are unable to access the services they need and are afraid to report victimization to police.
Resources for Action:
How Health Departments Can Ensure Access to Services and Continue Positive Relationships with Immigration Communities
+ Guide PowerPoint by Public Health Awakened, a national coalition of public health agencies that includes BARHII. BARHII can also deliver training as is needed.
+ Distribute welcoming communications to immigrant communities,
+ Welcoming communities communication examples for non-Sanctuary Cities
+ San Mateo (Message to Staff)
+ Share information with immigrants about their rights (Red Card)
+ Determine how to appropriately manage your data.
+ Consider the data you collect on immigration status, and get legal counsel on your rights and responsibilities to protect that information.
+ Your front line staff are your eyes and ears: closely monitor and track anecdotal comments about immigrant experience or declines in program participation
Tell Will Dominie at WDomine@BARHII.org about your efforts so he can help build momentum for the region.