Online Program

Policing as a Health Determinant: Immigration Policies and Police Practices Shaping Undocumented Latinos' Health in Atlanta

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 12:45 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Nolan Kline, PhD, MPH, Department of Consumer Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Angela Stuesse, PhD, Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Heide CastaƱeda, PhD, MPH, Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Background: In 2010, Georgia passed an immigration law, HB 87, allowing police to arrest and initiate the deportation process for any immigrant suspected of being undocumented. HB 87 is enforced through routine police activities and functions alongside federal immigration programs, such as 287(g) and Secure Communities.  As federal and state immigration laws interact with local police practices, researchers must pay specific attention to hidden, health-related consequences of immigration policy. This study examined how the state and federal immigration laws converged with local police practices to impact undocumented Latino immigrants’ health.    

Methods: Employing the social ecological model of health as a methodological framework, participant observation experiences and interviews with undocumented immigrants (n=47), immigrant rights organizations leaders (n=17), health providers (n=19), and legislators (n=3) demonstrated multilevel health-related impacts of immigrant policing in Atlanta.

Results: Immigrant policing results in some undocumented immigrants avoiding healthcare due to fear of encountering law enforcement, seeking services from informal providers, ceasing some preventive health behaviors, and changing mobility strategies to access care. These factors may exacerbate existing health disparities and demand additional research attention to policing and health.  

Discussion: Findings from this research point to how immigrant policing shapes undocumented Latinos’ health. Ultimately this research indicates a need to conceptualize policing as a health determinant encompassing several dimensions, including preferences for care and treatment, likelihood to engage in preventive health behaviors, and mobility. Understanding policing as a health determinant for undocumented populations may allow for future community-based initiatives to reduce health burdens for a population with numerous health-related vulnerabilities that hinder access to regular health care. Findings further suggest needed interventions addressing community concerns related to law enforcement.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Define policing from a public health perspective. Explain how policing impacts immigrant health and the health of other minority populations. Identify factors that contribute to health-related impacts of policing.

Keyword(s): Immigrant Health, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have collected and analyzed all data presented in the presentation, which is the basis for a PhD dissertation, and have contributed to a number of other studies on im/migrant health which have resulted in six peer-reviewed publications. I am also currently the coordinator for a grant-funded study examining factors that influence vaccination for children of migrant farmworkers, and have extensive experience working with immigrant community organizations in Florida and Georgia.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.