On Tuesday, April 11th, the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) hosted a webinar focused on how public health agencies can support local immigrant and refugee populations.
The webinar featured an overview of the “Guide for Public Health Actions for Immigrant Rights,” created by Public Health Awakened—a group of public health professionals organizing for health, equity, and justice that was formed in response to the Trump administration—and elevated how three public health agencies across the country are taking tangible action to reinforce their commitment to serve everyone in our communities.
As the federal government promises to drastically increase deportations, it has created a culture of fear and vulnerability in immigrant communities. This climate makes communities less healthy, and actively works against the goals of public health agencies. To combat this, the Immigrant Rights Guide elevates nine proactive actions that can be implemented to support residents:
- Continue to promote health agency policies to provide services to all people, and to ensure all people understand that they are welcome at the agency.
- Support cities, counties, and states that pledge to provide sanctuary in different forms to undocumented residents.
- Advocate that local and state government create a legal defense fund for undocumented residents.
- Connect undocumented clients and their families with legal rights and community organizing groups.
- Join/build alliances that cross issue areas and include immigration.
- Encourage and support the efforts of sister agencies, including in criminal justice, to protect undocumented people and their families
- Encourage labor enforcement to adopt and implement policies that protect worker rights, regardless of immigration status.
- Review other health agency policies and services, considering how undocumented populations may be impacted.
- Work to change a narrative that portrays undocumented people negatively.
Listen to the full webinar recording to hear how Alameda County Public Health (CA), Cook County Department of Public Health (IL), and Washtenaw County Public Health (MI) are making these actions real in their local communities. You can also review the PowerPoint slides from the presentation to learn more.
Common themes from the webinar included reinforcing agency commitments to serve all residents, staff trainings, sharing resources, and strengthening coalitions/partnerships with nonprofits and other community-based groups that are committed to health equity and are serving the immigrant population.
Interested in getting involved in Public Health Awakened? Visit their website to learn more.