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Creating Conditions to Support Healthy People: State Policies that Affect the Health of Undocumented Immigrants and Their Families

April 15, 2015

Research Report

Authors: Michael A. Rodriguez, MD, MPH , Maria-Elena Young, PhD, MPH, Steven P. Wallace, PhD

California scored highest while Ohio ranked last but no state has adequate policies in place to support the health and well-being of undocumented immigrants, according to this joint report by the UC Global Health Institute, the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, and the UCLA Blum Center on Poverty and Health in Latin America.

The report focuses on state policies as of 2014 in five areas that influence the health of immigrants and their families: public health and welfare, higher education, labor and employment, driver licensing and identification, and enforcement of the federal enforcement program, Secure Communities. The authors rated each state's policies in these areas as inclusive (supporting health and well-being) or exclusive (harming health and well-being), with scores ranging from +1 to -1. States were then assigned an overall policy score based on the tally of these scores.

The authors found that most states have restrictive policies and even among the few with higher scores, there are more opportunities for policymakers to strengthen state laws that improve the legal, social and economic environments that foster the health of undocumented immigrants. In addition, the authors recommend that policymakers should work to limit federal laws that actively restrict undocumented immigrants' rights or access to resources.

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