Chapter 28. Law, Migration, and Health in the US Context

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Book Chapter

Publication Date



Sandro Galea, Catherine K. Ettman, and Muhammad H. Zaman




The University of Chicago Press




Immigration is a global phenomenon and continues to spark contro­versary both in the United States and around the world. In this chapter, we focus primarily on immigration’s impact in the United States after the terrorist attacks of September 11 , 2001 , which has caused immigration to be seen through the lens of national security, with massive discrimination based on religion. This includes the contemporary politics of immigration that became so raw during the presidency of Donald Trump, who, as both presidential candidate and president, declared excluding South and Cen­tral American refugees and asylum seekers as his number one priority. The theme of the Trump presidency elevated the white nationalist values of those feeling threatened by immigrants, especially those from the His­ panic South, while continuing religious discrimination through the Mus­lim ban in 2017 . 8

Immigration is a complex subject with many moving parts, only a few of which are confined to the United States. Nonetheless, we think that by putting the US contemporary experience in the context of the Trump administration’s blatantly anti-­ immigrant policies, we can identify at least some of the major determinants of health as they affect immigrants seek­ing to come to the United States primarily as refugees and asylum seekers. These anti-­ immigrant policies were not born in the Trump administration and will not die with the Trump administration. Many anti-­ immigrant pol­icies were exaggerated during Trump’s time in office, but nonetheless rep­ resent policies supported by almost half of the country.


A new introduction to a timeless dynamic: how the movement of humans affects health everywhere.

International migrants compose more than three percent of the world’s population, and internal migrants—those migrating within countries—are more than triple that number. Population migration has long been, and remains today, one of the central demographic shifts shaping the world around us. The world’s history—and its health—is shaped and colored by stories of migration patterns, the policies and political events that drive these movements, and narratives of individual migrants.

Migration and Health offers the most expansive framework to date for understanding and reckoning with human migration’s implications for public health and its determinants. It interrogates this complex relationship by considering not only the welfare of migrants, but also that of the source, destination, and ensuing-generation populations. The result is an elevated, interdisciplinary resource for understanding what is known—and the considerable territory of what is not known—at an intersection that promises to grow in importance and influence as the century unfolds.

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