School of Medicine and Health Sciences Poster Presentations

Title

Screening for Immigration Relief Options and Connecting to Legal Resources in a Primary Care Office Setting

Document Type

Poster

Abstract Category

Prevention and Community Health

Keywords

Community Health, Primary Care

Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2019

Abstract

Lack of legal immigration status has been shown to negatively affect patient physical and mental health outcomes. Many undocumented individuals delay seeking medical care due to fear of immigration status exposure. Previous studies have suggested that many undocumented patients may qualify for a form of protected legal immigration status such as Asylum, T-visa, or U-visa, to name a few. At the Children's Health Center at Adams Morgan [CHC-AM], it is estimated that 85% of the patients identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino individuals who live in mixed-status families, in which family members may be a combination of citizens, legal permanent residents, recipients of Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals, Temporary Protected Status, or undocumented. Their stories strongly suggest that many may qualify for a form of protected legal immigration status. Yet, many do not seek legal counsel due to either lack of knowledge of eligibility for protection or difficulty in finding affordable services. The object of this study is to determine if the anxiety experienced by immigrant patients lessens after increasing awareness of legal immigration protection programs and providing referral to legal services. A team of GW SMHS medical student volunteers is currently recruiting patients at CHC-AM. With each enrolled participant, the students administer a pre-screening survey to assess stress/anxiety levels around immigration status. The students then conduct a free, anonymous online screening tool (www.immi.org). If the screener identifies a potential qualifying legal protection status, a list of local pro-bono or affordable immigration legal services is provided. Students then follow-up with qualifying participants in three weeks to administer a post-screening survey to assess changes, if any, in anxiety levels around immigration status. Research is ongoing. So far, some participants shared that they were not aware of the available protection programs before study enrollment. Others expressed concerns that exposing their immigration status while seeking legal advice would ultimately lead to their deportation. Many stated that they do not have the monetary resources for legal services. Yet others reported anxiety of being unable to provide medical care to their children due to risks of sudden deportation. This preliminary feedback from participants suggests how the stress surrounding immigration status can exacerbate patient health and highlights the need to increase community knowledge of protected legal immigration eligibility. This pilot study thus offers a starting point for understanding how to improve the community health of immigrant patients who may qualify for protected legal immigration status.

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Presented at Research Days 2019.

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Screening for Immigration Relief Options and Connecting to Legal Resources in a Primary Care Office Setting

Lack of legal immigration status has been shown to negatively affect patient physical and mental health outcomes. Many undocumented individuals delay seeking medical care due to fear of immigration status exposure. Previous studies have suggested that many undocumented patients may qualify for a form of protected legal immigration status such as Asylum, T-visa, or U-visa, to name a few. At the Children's Health Center at Adams Morgan [CHC-AM], it is estimated that 85% of the patients identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino individuals who live in mixed-status families, in which family members may be a combination of citizens, legal permanent residents, recipients of Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals, Temporary Protected Status, or undocumented. Their stories strongly suggest that many may qualify for a form of protected legal immigration status. Yet, many do not seek legal counsel due to either lack of knowledge of eligibility for protection or difficulty in finding affordable services. The object of this study is to determine if the anxiety experienced by immigrant patients lessens after increasing awareness of legal immigration protection programs and providing referral to legal services. A team of GW SMHS medical student volunteers is currently recruiting patients at CHC-AM. With each enrolled participant, the students administer a pre-screening survey to assess stress/anxiety levels around immigration status. The students then conduct a free, anonymous online screening tool (www.immi.org). If the screener identifies a potential qualifying legal protection status, a list of local pro-bono or affordable immigration legal services is provided. Students then follow-up with qualifying participants in three weeks to administer a post-screening survey to assess changes, if any, in anxiety levels around immigration status. Research is ongoing. So far, some participants shared that they were not aware of the available protection programs before study enrollment. Others expressed concerns that exposing their immigration status while seeking legal advice would ultimately lead to their deportation. Many stated that they do not have the monetary resources for legal services. Yet others reported anxiety of being unable to provide medical care to their children due to risks of sudden deportation. This preliminary feedback from participants suggests how the stress surrounding immigration status can exacerbate patient health and highlights the need to increase community knowledge of protected legal immigration eligibility. This pilot study thus offers a starting point for understanding how to improve the community health of immigrant patients who may qualify for protected legal immigration status.