What Health Risks Do Undocumented Immigrants Pose?

What Health Risks Do Undocumented Immigrants Pose?

For many decades now people who are opposed to immigration have raised concerns about the diseases that immigrants may carry into the country. However, dangerous viruses and bacteria are uninterested in whether a person is native born or not. Infectious diseases don’t care whether someone has crossed the border illegally or that person has gone through the prescribed steps to become a citizen of the US. Yes, aided by nativists and people who are simply uninformed, the myth that undocumented alien will make the US susceptible to some nationwide outbreak of TB or some other diseases continues. With this post I will try to show why this idea has little to no merit. 

Things to know about the Health of Refugees and Migrants

Conservative commentators and even the President have tried to associate disease with immigrants as closely as they have tried to connect them with crime. As an immigration attorney in Ventura County, I feel that it my duty to push back at some the untruths that have been spread by the President and other. Some facts about the health of immigration are:

  1. Immigrants who do make it t the US are screened vigorously for diseases such as tuberculosis, measles, etc. The individuals must undergo a physical examination including chest X-rays, blood samples, etc.
  2. Migrants and refugees are likely to be healthy in general. When migrants have fallen ill it has often come about as a result of the conditions in which they are confined. For example, there has been much concern about sanitary conditions at detention centers in the US. As most people know, diseases can quickly form and spread in conditions like these.
  3. In 2007, 47.6 percent of immigrants and their U.S.-born children were either uninsured or on Medicaid compared to 25 percent of natives and their children
  4. Studies show that international migrants are less likely than people in their host countries to die of heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and other ills.


In addition to educating the public about immigration and health issues, we should try to make health systems refugee and migrant-friendly. (Immigrants are often afraid to access publicly available healthcare for fear that they may be turned over to ICE.) We should try to make sure that undocumented immigrants have access to health insurance and that healthcare professionals are informed about issues related to this growing population. This may actually reduce the few health risks immigrant do pose. Additionally, we have to make sure that the detention centers that have become a blight on our nation are more humane and sanitary. I am attorney Erika Roman and I will always work on behalf of all who wish to share in the American dream.

Share this post