Maximizing food security for unauthorized immigrants during COVID-19

Health Affairs Blog

Many immigration advocates are calling for the release of detainees under US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody amidst concerns of COVID-19 outbreaks in detention centers. From March to May, ICE only reduced its detainee population by about 7,000 (in 2018, a daily average of 42,000 immigrants were held in detention), but a court order is expected to result in the release of more detainees at high risk of COVID-19 complications, including people older than age 55 and those with chronic health conditions. Yet, ICE does not offer any support to these detainees upon release, and they are not eligible to receive benefits under many programs that serve the basic needs of most Americans. This country should take steps to meet the basic needs of unauthorized immigrants in the US to protect them from the harms of COVID-19. Chief among those basic needs is that of food security.

Velasquez D, Kondo J, Downer S, Lieb EB. Maximizing food security for unauthorized immigrants during COVID-19. July 2020. Heal Aff Blog. doi:10.1377/hblog20200724.40740

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