Latina Immigrant Women’s Health and Access to Healthcare in the Heartland, before and during the Pandemic
This brief investigates the spillover effects of immigration and public health policies on Latina immigrant women’s health and their access to healthcare in Kansas. Studies have shown that the fear of deportation negatively impacts undocumented immigrants’ health, and the health of their family members. However, geography matters a great deal. Latino immigrants in urban and rural areas experience deportability differently, have access to vastly different resources, are dissimilarly impacted by physical constraints of their respective environments, and their health needs may also differ. Within these different contexts, immigration enforcement actions, such as raids, apprehensions, detention, and deportation ripple to also affect the heath of immigrants’ loved ones, including U.S. citizen family members.
Drawing on research in urban and rural Kansas, we highlight an important matrix between legal status and geographical location. While immigration policies extend a gradation of rights and protections to immigrants and their families based on a variety of legal statuses which provide more or less anchoring in U.S. society, this gradation is experienced differently in small towns and in large cities. Thus, legal status in tandem with a significant expansion of immigration enforcement and policing, translates into a variety of local contexts where immigrants’ health deteriorates while it also limits their access to formal health care.