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Youth Immigrants Face Health Risks

Immigration status affects the health of young immigrants in California, according to a new study from UCLA.

“Undocumented and Uninsured” is a five-part research project from the Dream Resource Center at the UCLA Labor Center. The first two parts were released Apr. 17. The study looked at undocumented immigrants ages 18 to 32, about half of whom are “DACA-mented.”  About 55% of those surveyed are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program.

The report found that:

  • Half of immigrant youth delay getting needed medical care, mostly because of cost or lack of insurance;
  • 71% have an existing need to see a provider, but 53% haven’t seen one for more than a year;
  • 74% use emergency services, public hospitals and community clinics for care;
  • 69% do not have health insurance but 53% do have family members with insurance; and
  • 58% of young immigrants use the Internet as a source of care.

“Being undocumented … results in a high potential for systematic and personal trauma,” the report said. “Many face incarceration, deportation, loss of wages and personal relationships, career and life barriers, discrimination and criminalization. These circumstances impact their health and well-being.”

There are roughly one million undocumented immigrants living in California. A bill in the Legislature would provide full-scope Medi-Cal coverage and access to Covered California plans for the undocumented. That bill, SB 4 by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), has passed the Senate Committee on Health and next will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

According to the report, many undocumented Californians can face denial of care or being reported to immigration authorities if they seek health services.

Researchers are holding a webinar tomorrow to discuss the findings.

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