Immigration Status as a Health Care Barrier in the USA during COVID-19

Jessica Hill
Darlene Rodriguez, Kennesaw State University
Paul McDaniel, Kennesaw State University


In the context of the United States of America (U.S.), COVID-19 has influenced migrant experiences in a variety of ways, including the government's use of public health orders to prevent migration into the country and the risk of immigrants contracting COVID-19 while in detention centers. However, this paper focuses on barriers that immigrants of diverse statuses already living in the U.S.—along with their families—may face in accessing health services during the pandemic, as well as implications of these barriers for COVID-19 prevention and response efforts . We report findings from a scoping review about immigration status as a social determinant of health and discuss ways that immigration status can impede access to health care across levels of the social ecology . We then explore how recent changes to federal immigration policies and current COVID-19 federal relief efforts may serve to create additional barriers to health care for immigrants and their families. Improving health care access for immigrant populations in the U.S. will require interventions at all levels of the social ecology and across vari ous social determinants of health, both in response to COVID-19 and to strengthen health systems more broadly.