Study Finds Trump's Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric Negatively Impacting Latinx Peoples' Health

President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric is causing widespread fear and having negative effects on Latinx people’s health, a new study found.

The survey, which was conducted at three urban California emergency departments, discovered that Trump’s comments made more than 50 percent of Latinx citizens and legal residents, as well as 75 percent of undocumented immigrants feel unsafe.

Specifically, Trump’s remarks made undocumented immigrants fearful that they would be denied service or be deported after visiting the emergency room. Nearly a fourth of undocumented immigrants (24 percent) surveyed said their fear led them to delay their trip to the emergency room for days. The study also noted that statements from the administration regarding narrowing of asylum eligibility and changing the definition of “public charge” (whether an immigrant would be considered someone who would be dependent on public services) may be reasons for the higher rates of safety concerns.

Why It Matters

“Statements coming from the administration and the president really do have significant effects on Latino populations,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Robert Rodriguez, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told Reuters. “Not only have they induced fear in undocumented immigrants, but they have also caused a substantial proportion of Latino citizens to have concerns about their safety.”

Carlos Guevara, senior policy advisor at UnidosUS, told The North Star that the study’s findings were unsurprising, and consistent with what the organization has learned anecdotally. Guevara said that the president’s anti-immigrant comments and policy changes have had a “chilling impact” on the lives of Latinx people and are “upending the day-to-day lives” of immigrants and Americans alike.

Guevara stressed to The North Star that this is an issue that should matter to all Americans, particularly since one in four children in the U.S. are Hispanic. According to UnidosUS, approximately six million Americans live with undocumented immigrants, meaning the administration’s actions target much more than the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country. Trump’s anti-immigrant comments and policies are putting the U.S. on a trajectory “that is frankly threatening to handicap a generation of American kids,” Guevara said.

Study Fast Facts

  • Researchers approached 1,684 emergency department patients at three California hospitals between June 2017 and December 2018.

  • 1,337 emergency department patients agreed to speak to researchers. Of those, 34.3 percent were undocumented Latinx immigrants, 36.9 percent were Latinx legal residents or citizens and 29.8 percent were non-Latinx residents or citizens.

  • 95 percent of undocumented Latinx immigrants, 94 percent of Latinx residents or citizens and 87 percent of non-Latinx residents or citizens had heard anti-immigrant rhettoric or measures from Trump and his administration about building walls, deportation and denying services to undocumented immigrants.

  • Nearly 9 out of 10 patients in each group believed the anti-immigrant measures discussed by Trump were being enacted or would be in the future.

  • Twenty-four percent of undocumented Latinx immigrants and 4.4 percent of Latinx residents or citizens said the statements made them afraid to go to the hospital.

What Can Be Done About This

Guevara told The North Star that it is important for all Americans to “come off the sidelines” and have their voices heard. He added that U.S. citizens should recognize the privilege they have and use that privilege to galvanize support for positive change by registering to vote, learning about the issues affecting the community, and using their platforms to be more active.

For more information on how anti-immigrant policies affect Americans, read UnidosUS’ white paper “Beyond the Border: Family Separation in the Trump Era.” The organization also encourages people to read their Weekly Immigration Blog, which provides action steps when the need arises.

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About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia, Australia and the Americas.