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Policies of Exclusion: Implications for the Health of Immigrants and Their Children


Public policies play a crucial role in shaping how immigrants adapt to life in the United States. Federal, state, and local laws and administrative practices impact immigrants' access to education, health insurance and medical care, cash assistance, food assistance, and other vital services. Additionally, immigration enforcement activities have substantial effects on immigrants' health and participation in public programs, as well as effects on immigrants' families. This review summarizes the growing literature on the consequences of public policies for immigrants' health. Some policies are inclusive and promote immigrants' adaptation to the United States, whereas other policies are exclusionary and restrict immigrants' access to public programs as well as educational and economic opportunities. We explore the strategies that researchers have employed to tease out these effects, the methodological challenges of undertaking such studies, their varying impacts on immigrant health, and steps that can be undertaken to improve the health of immigrants and their families.

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